If for no other reason than she has taken the job, one of the most challenging in the tech world right now, whilst heavily pregnant, and has told her (inevitably) male and (disappointingly)  female doubters, that she is going to do her job and her motherhood her way.

We like this woman already. Though there is a half a sniff that she could be a strategic weapon for Google to make sure Yahoo remains in friendly hands. Like ex-Microsofter,  Stephen Elop in Nokia, it can’t harm to have friends in the right places of some of the war’s more tactical assets.  Don’t shout cynic, instead read the Art of War.

I’m liking this series.


Slashdot reports today that Google has come up with a really smart way of avoiding all of these pesky and irritating patent fights it is in right now.

Referencing an article on All Things D, Google GC Kent Walker comments:

“While collaborative [Standards Setting Organizations (SSOs)] play an important part in the overall standard setting system, and are particularly prominent in industries such as telecommunications, they are not the only source of standards. Indeed, many of the same interoperability benefits that the FTC and others have touted in the SSO context also occur when one firm publishes information about an otherwise proprietary standard and other firms then independently decide (whether by choice or of necessity) to make complementary investments to support that standard in their products. … Because proprietary or de facto standards can have just as important effects on consumer welfare, the Committee’s concern regarding the abuse of SEPs should encompass them as well. “

Ahem!! Read that back again and ask why that suggestion doesn’t drive a very large coach and a herd of horses (it is a herd of horses isn’t it?) through the entire patent system.

It is often said that in any patent portfolio, there will be around 5% that have real commercial value (why this makes sense to follow in later posts), and, with Mr Walker’s suggestion, of this 5% of heavy investment, it is fair that those that get really popular are deemed to be de facto Standard essential when consumers decide they really like them. You’d have to be quite desperate for that to be part of a serious set of arguments, don’t you think?

After the abuse of the Standards system (well maybe manipulation is a better word) by the 2 and 3G member-only clubs, is it fair then for one of those that has paid out most in the Smartphone wars in club membership fees to have to deem its most valuable patents as available on FRAND terms to another company who has far from played by the rules? Would it also be fair to make MSFT play by the same rules after 13 years of IP investment has put it into the position of being able to offer a total indemnity to its users and to exercise a significant strategic and competitive advantage?

Whoever may be listening to Kent Walker, don’t. He is GC of a company which has been less than honest with Android OS licensees. Suffer little Google for a bad set of consciously-taken IP decisions, in particular (a) to indemnify or not, you chose not (b) to buy Nortel or not, you chose a quirky not (c) to buy MMI without too much investigation of whether its patents were already out-licensed and on what terms.

Nice search engine, lots of revenues, wrong IP strategy, desperate submission.

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If you’re not from the UK, you may not be familiar with the weird combination of part footballer, part philosopher, part hooligan, part socialist, part nutcase, all conundrum that is Joey Barton. More on Joey in later posts, he may yet feature in this series but I’ve not yet made up my mind as to whether to like and sympathise with him or view him as an advanced Neanderthal that represents all things bad about UK society.

For the purposes of this post, here is Joey in worst form. Joey’s explanation for his assault on Sergio Aguero,  claimed on Twitter, was that his violent actions were a cynical ploy to provoke a City player to be sent off.  He insisted via Twitter that he had “not lost his head but that a team-mate suggested I should try to take one of theirs with me”.

Make your own mind up on that one. If you’re still unsure, watch Joey’s face as he knees Aguero in the back and ask whether he was keeping his head at the time or whether it was not just 100% malice.

And the relevance to Bashar Al-Assad? Well, if he ever takes to Twitter, his current actions and those to follow in the next few weeks will be explained with something along the same lines. He is going, without a doubt, so he decides to “take a few with him”.

It will not be a pleasant end, and some lucky Syrian is going to be the one that finds him cowering in some bunker, humiliated and looking a little pale. He may try the trick of one of Gaddafi’s sons and claim he’s a sheep herder.  Maybe he’ll try the “leave me alone, I’ve been a good leader” trick tried by Gaddafi himself, but all will fail and some lucky Syrian will have the privilege of bringing his cowardly and despotic reign to an end. Although he will not be around to see it, the bodies of himself and anyone associated with him will be then shown publicly until buried at sea or out in the desert.

Either way Bashar, you’re going. You have a very short window in which to retain a scrap of dignity, and maybe your life, rather than taking thousands with you. Straight choice, but you cannot win.

He is now being consigned to history. Wonder who’s next?


Ryanair I forgive you..I was wrong….

by Andrew Watson on 16 July 2012

Ha! Fooled you. No of course I don’t. Travel chaos today as my host for a weekend in Bergerac (he will remain nameless) got us to the airport on what he thought was time to find our FlyBe 13.15 flight sitting on the tarmac ready to leave, at 13.15. Oops.

Imagine though the joy of knowing that Ryanair was there to save me. You know, give them their dues, their one, very full flight to Dordogne has opened up the region for tons of tourists to visit this lovely part of South West France, but that’s enough of being nice. The person behind the desk was actually quite apologetic as he told us that the next flight would cost £268 each, and, here is the rub, £100 for my suitcase. He was so embarrassed that he gave us priority boarding out of sympathy. I hope I don’t get him into trouble but it actually showed that, given a touch of humanity, Ryanair could just evolve into a half decent customer experience.

Despots around the world are falling fast. Al-Assad is on his last legs and will be planning his escape route if he has any sense. Diamond is gone. Blatter has become such an embarassment to the Swiss he’s planning his retirement. Micheal o Leary, start saying goodbye. You know it’s right to go. You can start to travel..make sure you get speedy boarding, and, if using Ryanair, make sure you print out your boarding pass.


Sepp Blatter did his already junk-bond status reputation further damage with his remarkable remarks to the Joao Havalange and son in law scandal this week.


Try this one and at first glance the “not my fault” explanation feels semi plausible:

“You can’t judge the past on the basis of today’s standards,” he said. “Otherwise it would end up with moral justice.”

Then you think about, having just heard his admission that he is P1 and that he personally authorised a payment from FiFA to the Swiss courts to cover up the case against Mr Havalange and think….ay? You are kidding though. I thought he was a twat, now he’s showing himself to be a total twat!

Calls to step down are like calls to stop bombing and slaughtering his people to Bassar Al-Assad. Only force will stop these despots, words mean nothing and with cronies and zero governance, all they can do is lash out at their critics and hope that they can silence the most damaging ones, and Joey Barton like, try to take a few with them as they go down.

It took Mervyn King’s intervention to extract Diamond Bob’s ugly moral code. Who is the Mervyn equivalent here who can step in and take Sepp out before he drags football’s reputation to increasingly lower levels.

A game I love, a man that we all hate.


Small rumour-more Facebook buying

by Andrew Watson on 5 July 2012

Apparently Facebook has been on at least two other recent patent splurges. We are digging.


To ARM’s Chief IP Counsel Sam Funnell (Ben pronouced it Funnel but I thought the emphasis is on the second syllable).

Sitting next to Sherry Knowles (ex GSK head of IP)  and hearing Sherry say that she “totally disagrees” with you is not easy territory. But Sam is a true Brit. Her comment that

” in Arm, I am responsible for IP, but that my board and management are responsible for Arm’s intellectual, human and relationship capital”

 gets the Tangible IP award for the most sophisticated comment at IPBC, and maybe of 2012.

No wonder Arm has now shipped more microprocessors than Intel. A perfect IP model. Would love to run our benchmark on them.


Another very urgent change at the top needed before reputation and brand collapse. Go now Bob and show some leadership. You take your bonuses and by doing so misread entirely the public mood. Then when bad things happen you don’t show leadership by stepping aside and taking the blame onto your shoulders. You are not the man to take Barclays forward. Bye.


IAM, issue 54-observations

by Andrew Watson on 29 June 2012

Reading IAM issue 54, two quick observations.

Twitter’s patent policy is the subject of the Insights section. It’s not clear who wrote this but it may just miss one key point, which is why Twitter has put its Innovator’s Patent Agreement in place. To summarise, Twitter’s VP of Engineering Adam Messinger has implemented an agreement and policy that puts some control of how a patent is used in the hands of the inventors. IAM, correctly, argues that this may place restrictions on Twitter’s abilities to use the patents in question for offensive purposes or to raise finance by selling the patents, to trolls (I like the word troll, it is sufficiently descriptive for me of all models that create wealth from licensing patents, however implemented, NPEs is too kind, and as the IP Hall of Fame now has its first troll….stop it Andrew), or for any other purpose other than defensive.

Why are these restrictions important? Well stop and pause for just ten seconds and imagine that you are a software engineer. Don’t read on until you imagine this for at least 10 seconds.

So Mr Software Engineer. You read Slashdot (notorious patent haters) and other technical journals and literature. You may have worked at organisations like Gemstar and IBM where pots of wealth were and are being created using your inventions. What do you feel about patent licensing as a business model? How do you feel about your precious inventions, the emotional equivalent of your children so they say, being used by lawyers to force another company to defend against your invention. You may, or may not, philosophically, believe in software patents. But that is not the core point. Other people, probably lawyers, are taking your babies and forcing others to pay money to make use of them. Emotionally that’s hard to imagine, and what’s worse is that they don’t even ask your permission to do so or pay you a fair reward for their privilege.

If those hard-bitten beliefs are to be reversed and the opposite behaviours encouraged, Twitter like IPAs will be part of the solution. Does IAM think that Mr Messinger will have implemented this blind without asking engineers for their opinions and views?

I also liked the “Seen & Heard” section in general and this quote from Ron Zink of Microsoft Europe in particular.

“Negative fringe stories about multi-billion dollar patent wars and anti-counterfeiting treaties are tainting the image of IP”.

Too right. Though I think, ending the week on the same theme as which we started it, that removing the words from “and through to treaties” and replacing the word “IP” with “patents” would be more accurate.

Time to rest, a hard week.


I like this series. I might rename it “why changing the guy at the top can change the whole perception of your organisation”.

Like the mightily dislikeable Michael O Leary, Sepp Blatter’s tone from the top of FIFA does it a dis-service. Pick your words from the following list and feel free to add any that may have been missed, because I am sure that Mr Blatter does some charity work and is loved by Mrs Blatter and all the little Blatters, but as CEO of World football he is just the wrong man. Word association words:

  • cheat
  • despot
  • power crazy
  • exclusive (ie the opposite of inclusive)
  • liar
  • embarrassment
  • anachronism
  • closet racist, possibly.

Basically just a twat!

The Guardian ran this super piece about the fine imposed on Niklas Bendtner for showing his Paddy Power sponsored undies at Euro 2012 and comparing it to the fines that have been imposed for rascism. The Guardian doesn’t like Mr Blatter at all, and, as the World’s leading liberal voice I agree with every word they say.

In business the character of a business is set from its top. The CEO is the public and private manifestation of its character and ethics. In football or indeed politics (don’t think you’re exempt Bashar al-Assad, you will be shot and die horribly like Gaddafi, you know it, because despots never win in the long term) or any walk of life, the person at the top will determine its character.

Put Sepp Blatter at the top and what you get is what you saw last night in Spain vs Portugal. A cheating-fest. Every tackle was exaggerated, every foul made to look worse than it was, every falling over in the box made to look like the penalty that it wasn’t. Don’t get me started on the animal that is Pepe (just watch this if you want to see this animal in action) or that preening, diving, cheating, creature that is Ronaldo-both horrendous examples to kids and to the World in general.

FFS (for football’s sake) don’t just jump on every bandwagon FIFA (be it diving, false card waving, goal-line technology or the next thing), change the CEO. Watch games with integrity (golf, tennis, rugby, as an example, watch Novak Djokovic self-call a line error and lose a point in Paris at Roland Garros, in the final) and then watch the Spain vs Portugal game last night with shame and embarrassment at how low the World’s favourite game has stooped under the leadership of Sepp Blatter.

My wife watched it because she is Spanish. Half an hour into the second half she saw the animal Pepe commit his nth foul of the night and his yth false squeal when fouled and decided to go to bed. The super slow-motion replays are just plain embarrassing. Every player, even the fabulous Iniesta and the world class Xavi do it.

Its Gladwell’s Broken Windows theory in practice. If you live in a neighbourhood where all the windows are broken you break windows and generally cause chaos. Fix the windows and give people somewhere to live that they are proud of and, amazingly, not only petty crime but even the murder rate drops.

What would be lovely is for Mr Blatter to step down gracefully before he destroys FIFAs credibility any further (why does a country like Switzerland tolerate this despot). Failing that we need Kofi Annan to develop a peace plan before the troops have to be brought in and Mr Blatter is shown on YouTube being dragged out of a under-road tunnel and slapped around as the latest despot victim of Arab Spring to be brought down to Earth.

Good will always win. Either way this particular football despot needs to go.

To end with, a quite funny story. My family and I went to Zurich 3 weeks ago for a holiday. On one of the rainy days, we decided to visit FIFA HQ. What a beautiful building, resembling a football stadium surrounded by something like 12 full size groomed pitches and one amazing astroturf pitch not anything like the ones I used to play on at Platt Lane in Manchester. Dani, my 14 year old and I really wanted a kickabout but we’d not brought our football. So, we thought, here we are at the home of football (not soccer btw), we’ll buy or borrow one.

In reception, the very polite lady told us the only balls they had were for show, and they were beautifully shown, all Adidas balls through the World Cup years from 1970. We thought to grab one but that seemed wrong. It’s ok, we’ll go to the shop I thought. Guess what, they don’t sell balls in the shop (that’s actually very funny isn’t it?). Lots of keyrings, mugs, etc but no balls. That’s ok I said, we’ll go to the gym (you know where this is heading don’t you?). Sorry sir, the only ball we have here is this one here, right beside me on a stand, and that’s for show only. Our last resort was to go to the pitches, to find a group of boys training……………for American Football.

So, no balls at FIFA. Given the longevity of his despotic reign, that feels like an accurate summary.


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