Of course, I wonder if they've been paying taxes on that property. If not, then Maine Revenue Services might be interested in the fact that a local corporation has been evading their taxes.
On the other hand, if SurfCast is willing to attest to the Maine Revenue Service that their property has no value and should not be taxed, then I'd like to see Microsoft introduce that into court as evidence that SurfCast can't have suffered financial harm.
So which is it: is SurfCast filing a baseless lawsuit over valueless property or are they tax evaders?
Maine's property tax appears to apply only to "real property" (land) and "tangible" personal property  ("tangible" property includes tractors, factory equipment, and other things you can pick up and hold --- patents and other IP are "intangible personal property.")
If you think it's a capital asset subject to capital gains taxation, there's usually no tax on that until the gain is realized by sale. I don't know how patents are taxed in states with general ad valorem taxes, but Maine doesn't seem to be one of those states.
This proposed change would take the patent system, from something that is supposed to promote the progress of science, and turn it completely on it's head. Any small inventor that dared patent something worth-while would be forced to either turn a massive profit on it before tax season, sell it before tax season, or risk it being stolen with few substantial penalties.
Companies with deep pockets would have a field day taking advantage of inventors, they would ignore patents if the inventor declared it worth little for tax reasons. Or, if the inventor claimed the true value of the patent for taxes, they would buy out the inventor at cut-rate prices after taxes had ruined him.
The text I am typing right now is under copyright by default, if I write something particularly brilliant here, can I expect to owe a good deal of taxes?
If not, why not? Both are intellectual "property", and both clearly can have very real value. Why should unpublished books be any less taxable than un-implemented patents?
Ideas aren't a naturally limited resource. It takes government intervention to declare that an idea is owned by one specific party. It seems only fair that the beneficiary of that intervention should be expected to support the government that makes it possible.
By the way, I have no problem whatsoever with property rights. Although I think software patents are BS, if the government says they exist, then they exist. I just don't think it's fair that these non-practicing entities are paying their fair share to support the system that's netting them a paycheck. Why would I have to pay taxes on a rent house that I lease out, but they don't have to pay taxes on a patent that they lease out?
Paying taxes to ensure copyright protection would basically have the real world effect of pealing back default copyright. No works would be protected unless the creator went through the trouble of registering^Wpaying tax for that work.
I don't think society would be better off without default copyright, so copyrighted works must remain effectively untaxed "properties".
The problem I am having here is that you are conflating physical property with intellectual "property" just because you want to go after patent trolls. What you are proposing would not be limited in effect to the people you dislike though.
If Bob Handyman were to invent a new type of, say, catalytic converter, in his garage, this would be of immense value to the automotive industry. This would therefore be an incredibly "valuable" patent. (And Bob would of course have to patent his new invention, unless he were a fool.) ..But under your proposal he would then be responsible for a massive tax that he could never dream of paying. And if he didn't pay this tax, automotive companies would then be free to use his invention without giving him anything?
That is crazy.
I'm not asserting that IP owners currently owe property taxes. I am asserting that if they've asked the government to declare that the property is theirs, and they're asking the government to help defend their granted rights, then they should have to pay for the operation of that government.
In short, if you want to have it both ways and receive the patent without paying taxes, fine. Just don't expect to use my taxpayer-supported court system to help you enforce your rights on it.
Except you did when you called them tax evaders.
If patents were appropriately labelled as taxable property, then they would be tax evaders (unless they chose to value that property at $0.00).
I'm sure that is probably slightly "more prior" art.
The word "tile" is used prominently in the patent.
Microsoft even once gave a demo of how fast QuickBASIC compiled code was by writing a program that split the screen into quarters and showed different real-time data displays into each quarter. You could call that prior art, even if it weren't for Windows 1.
I know they are basically shell corporations, but it would be great to see these patent cases incurring some risk for the trolls.
The tech sector is a small slice of the business space. Lets phrase it another way - you get a bad shipment of chocolate from a supplier, and your cookies send a handful of kids into allergic shock from the peanuts tainting the chocolate. One of them dies. You're likely going to be sued, and your liability insurance is likely a drop in the bucket (enough to cover your business assets). Do you still deserve to lose your house?
"Under Section 285 of the Patent statute, courts have discretion to award reasonable attorneys’ fees in patent infringement cases that are deemed “exceptional.” 35 U.S.C. § 285. The Federal Circuit noted that while the threat of enhanced damages for willful infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 284 deters bad faith conduct on the part of the accused infringer, the threat of attorneys’ fees under Section 285 is “the only deterrent to the equally improper bringing of clearly unwarranted suits on invalid or unenforceable patents.” Mathis v. Spears, 857 F.2d 749, 754 (Fed. Cir. 1988). Section 285 provides:
The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorneys’
fees to the prevailing party. 35 U.S.C. § 285."
I particularly find the following quote interesting from the last line on the first page: "The present invention is intended to operate in a platform independent manner."
Seriously though, even disregarding any previous prior art, Microsoft already did stuff like this back in 98 when it was called Active Channel.
See Fig. 1 in the first patent (pg 3)
The pictures has some funny Drive names: Bambam, Fatbelly, Bigboss, Hulk.
The Eolas case was BS though. The patent was based on rewording the description of existing technology. If memory serves me correctly. Microsofts own OCX technology was prior art for the concept. Eolas claimed that by applying their concept to the web, it was novel and non-obvious.
But more importantly, the troll will take that intact patent and its now overflowing coffers and go off after Microsoft's competitors. So it's a twofer.
Bet on it.
As much as we hate patent trolls, once and a while, there is an exception to rule which proves us all wrong.
I might have invested countless hours in such effort, but that does not grant it any inherent value.
Ensuring distribution of costs for new technology is one of the primary reasons for having patents in the first place.
That's up to the USPTO to decide, not you.
People sometimes win the lottery. Does that provide reason enough to start buying tickets instead of groceries?