Nathan Myhrvold's Bait And Switch Plan On Patent Hoarding
from the can-you-say-greenmail? dept
We’ve written about Nathan Myhrvold’s dangerous plans to put hundreds of millions of dollars into hoarding patents many times before. Business Week is now running yet another article that tries to get to the heart of Myhrvold’s plans — though his company, Intellectual Ventures is being quite secretive. The article does discuss his “invention sessions” where he brings together a bunch of smart folks to brainstorm — where the whole conversation is recorded and monitored by patent lawyers looking for anything they can file patents on. However, what’s much more interesting is the story of how Myhrvold pulled a total bait-and-switch on the many big tech companies who represent his investors. The original business plan for Intellectual Ventures was to create a “Patent Defense Fund.” The idea was to buy up all the available patents from the bursting dot com bubble and offer to license it to companies to protect them from patent infringement lawsuits from others using the typical nuclear stockpiling defense. However, these days, the company no longer discusses the patent defense fund. Instead, it refers to many of its own investors as “the patent infringers lobby.” As the article suggests, it seems like the company basically convinced these companies to fund it based on this “defense fund” plan, by making it clear if they didn’t invest, they would be the first targets for future lawsuits. In the meantime, would you trust any company that insists the patent system is just fine — but doesn’t seem to understand the history of innovation? Update: In a move that can’t make folks happy at either magazine, it appears Fortune has an almost identical article about Myhrvold coming out. The two articles are so similar, in fact, that it makes you wonder why the publicity tour is starting up now.