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World's Largest Patent Troll Fires First Salvo 189

Posted by kdawson
from the sleeping-under-the-world's-largest-bridge dept.
ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "Yesterday the biggest software patent troll of all finally woke from its slumbers: Intellectual Ventures filed patent infringement complaints in the US District Court of Delaware against companies in the software security, DRAM and Flash memory, and field-programmable gate array industries. Intellectual Ventures was co-founded by Microsoft's former CTO Nathan Myhrvold, with others from Intel and a Seattle-based law firm." We discussed IV's potential for patent trollery last spring.
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World's Largest Patent Troll Fires First Salvo

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  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday December 10, 2010 @11:28AM (#34514252) Homepage

    Will IV allow licensing of their patent portfolio, or will they do like a lot of companies, just get patents so nobody else can use them?

    Well, the original Slashdot article linked in TFS indicates that "it doesn't actually use these patents – except to threaten people with. In other words, Intellectual Ventures is a patent troll". They only license their patent portfolio. Expect this to basically be a shakedown.

    Man, I hate that a company can exist just to own patents and sue people.

  • Yes, Per Patent (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday December 10, 2010 @11:31AM (#34514294) Journal

    Will IV allow licensing of their patent portfolio, or will they do like a lot of companies, just get patents so nobody else can use them?

    Well, from their their website [intellectualventures.com] they list all their "products" and services:

    • Purchasing a nonexclusive license to relevant IV portfolio(s) on a term or life-of-patent basis
    • Purchasing an exclusive license (subject to pre-existing licenses) to selected IV invention(s) on a term or life-of-patent basis
    • AccessingIntellectual Property to use as defense against the threat of corporate assertions
    • Leveraging IV’s sophisticated acquisition capabilities to gain access to inventions of particular interest to you
    • Using IV as a financing source for mergers & acquisitions (M&A) whereby IV agrees to purchase a target company’sIntellectual Property to “bridge” the acquirer’s effective offer
    • Creating new inventions in conjunction with IV’s inventors and invention process

    The first bullet appears to answer your question that yes, they do. But when you say "patent portfolio" I don't think you'll find anyone with enough cash to access to the whole portfolio, most likely it's one license to one patent at a time. I think their big "product" is providing a service to liquidate your patent very easily (like a pawn shop for patents) so far. This salvo may change that.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday December 10, 2010 @11:50AM (#34514474) Journal

    They only license their patent portfolio.

    Oh, how I wish that was all that they did. As you can see from their site [intellectualventures.com]:

    Intellectual Ventures has been actively inventing since August 2003. The company has filed thousands of patent applications in more than 50 technology areas and has thousands of ideas under consideration.

    Since 2003 they have been gumming up the USPTO as well. Note that they've filed thousands of patent applications. No mention of how many were issued. It's entirely possible that they were issued to the actual people working at IV and not to IV but a search shows nine patents issued to IV [uspto.gov] on the USPTO.

    So remember the TED Laser Mosquito/Malaria technology [slashdot.org]? That's just a patent waiting to be issued then licensed [intellectualventures.com] but until then I wouldn't recommend building any.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Friday December 10, 2010 @12:30PM (#34514834) Homepage

    Below are links to background info, but keep in mind that trolls create a tax, but they're not the big problem. They're generally not the patent holders that break standards or exclude free software projects. They're just after money, so they are parasites to the rich. The MPEG-LA patents, for example, are much more harmful (they blocked HTML5 from including a standard video format) and are held by "real" software companies.

    swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

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