Microsoft-i4i fight has big patent implications

What has been an interesting side show over the last few years, has taken on a much greater significance with the latest news that Microsoft’s appeal of a patent win by software minnow i4i will be heard by the Supreme Court.

When the two combatants eventual square off in Washington, D.C. sometime next spring, tech companies large and small will be closely following every legal punch thrown.

In the Microsoft camp will be heavyweights Google and Yahoo and trade groups such as the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

In the i4i corner will be all small firms who have ever patented a piece of software. Ironically this used to include Microsoft.

Loudon Owen, i4i’s chairman and CEO, was not surprised by the support Microsoft has received from Google and other tech giants in this fight.

Yahoo can’t find buyer for small business unit

The sale of Yahoo’s small business unit, which had been rumored for months, has apparently found no takers and now the Internet firm has pulled the offer from the table, news website DailyFinance reported.

Last September a source “familiar with the matter” told Reuters that Yahoo’s asking price of between $350 million to $500 million was “likely higher than what buyers were willing to pay.”

Yahoo’s small business division provides domains, email, Web hosting and other merchant services to customers.

Experts weigh in on Twitter-based shopping site

IMshopping's Twitter pageYesterday we presented entrepreneur Prashant Nedungadi (read his entrepreneur journal) and his startup website IMshopping.com, which offers a platform whereby consumers can ask specific retail-related questions, through the website directly or via Twitter, and have them answered by an online community of retail experts. (click here to read Nedungadi’s pitch)

Nedungadi launched his website last April and has already received $4.7 million in venture capital investment from SK Telecom, but now needs to find retailers willing to pay to utilize his virtual sales force instead of going the traditional route and hiring their own sales people.

Our panel of experts have watched Nedungadi’s pitch video and gave us their reaction to IMshopping and Nedungadi’s business model.

Do your employees hate you? That’s just bad business


Tough-talking Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz sure knows how to get the media’s attention. Virtually every quip she’s ever uttered — including her famous “Tell me why I shouldn’t fire the whole lot of you” line — has been happily devoured and dissected by reporters looking for juicy quotes.

It makes for a great story, but you’ve got to wonder what it’s like to work for her.

A recent article from Entrepreneur.com suggests that bosses like Bartz might want to lighten up — not just because it’s good for office morale, but it may also boost their company’s bottom line.