Feeds

Gates joins ex-Microsoft CTO to register patents

Washington troll patrol

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Bill Gates is working with his former chief technology officer turned IP collector Nathan Myhrvold to register patents in a way that could help Microsoft monetize the internet.

TechDirt has uncovered that Bill Gates is named as an inventor on nine patents registered with a company called Searete since he stepped down from day-to-day responsibilities with Microsoft. Gates is also named on a further two Searete patents pre-dating his Microsoft departure.

Gates with the Ballmerbot

Look out SteveO, you're next

Searete is one of a clutch of companies operated by Myrholvd's Intellectual Ventures (IV). Myhrvold holds 241 named patents in Searete, whose catalogue goes back to November 2005.

Myhrvold gained notoriety in 1997 as Microsoft's US antitrust case was just warming up when as CTO, he reportedly said Microsoft hoped to gain a "vig" on every online transition involving Microsoft technology. He said Microsoft would offer consumers both "electronic information and the means to act on it."

Some will see this as an online ads-based revenue model or Microsoft charging for licensing of its software, such as servers, used to power online services.

Others, though, have been concerned this might be a backdoor to charging those who implement patents containing Microsoft-owned intellectual property.

That was certainly a concern some years back as Microsoft expanded a catalogue of Web Services specifications - WS-*. And even though the WS-* specifications are covered by Microsoft's Open Specification Promise (OSP), concerns remain that Microsoft can unilaterally update the terms.

Not helping Microsoft's case is the fact that Gates isn't the only Softie working with Searete. Senior vice president of Microsoft research Rick Rashid and chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie - who assumed some of Gates' responsibilities on departure - are also listed on the Searete patents. Searete and IV are also based in Bellevue, Washington - Microsoft's home state.

The patents authored by Gates, Rashid, Mundie, and others cover ways of identifying and monitoring the way people interact with web sites and online systems.

Myhrvold left Microsoft 2000 after 14 years to form IV, a company about which little is known and that's been steadily building a catalogue of patents. The company has recently gone out of its way to deny it's a patent troll (warning: PDF), by talking to certain sections of the press. IV describes itself as an "invention company." ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.