Intellectual Ventures Lending Its Patents To Members To Sue Others
from the win-win? dept
We’ve certainly written plenty about Intellectual Ventures, the giant, incredibly secretive, patent hoarding operation that has convinced a bunch of companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in a sort of pyramid scheme protection racket, to avoid getting sued on any of the patents that it holds. But now it’s taken things a step further. Last year, we saw how at least one IV patent had shown up in a patent lawsuit, and now Zusha Elinson is reporting that Intellectual Ventures has effectively loaned out one of its patents to member company Verizon, with which it can sue TiVo, in response to a lawsuit TiVo filed against it.
Yes, effectively, Intellectual Ventures is becoming an arms dealer in patent nuclear war.
Think about this for a second. TiVo sued Verizon over patents. Traditionally in patent lawsuits between two big tech companies, the sued party then finds some of its own patents that the other company is infringing on and then counter-sues. But, in this case, apparently Verizon couldn’t find anything good, and IV dug through its own portfolio and transferred the rights over to Verizon so Verizon could pound back on TiVo. This must be what Verizon paid Intellectual Ventures $350 million for. The right to get handed patents that it has no intention of using or implementing, but over which it can sue others. I don’t think this is what Thomas Jefferson envisioned when he set up the patent system.
Amusingly, Intellectual Ventures tries to position this all as a good thing:
Don Merino, vice president of licensing at IV, said it’s an example of IV taking “a much more customer-centric approach.”
“We want to figure out how to get out of the, ‘I win, you lose’ to a much more collaborative, ‘We both win,'” said Merino.
Well, sure. Unless you’re TiVo. Or the general public who would prefer that these hundreds of millions of dollars getting tossed around went towards actual innovation instead of lawsuits.