Intellectual Ventures Files Its First Lawsuits; Giant Patent Troll Awakened
from the watch-out... dept
For years, Intellectual Ventures has avoided suing companies directly, while building up a portfolio of tens of thousands of patents (mostly bought — though it likes to get PR from the wacky and usually useless patents it files directly). Its business model, to date, has been about shaking down giant tech companies for hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for letting those companies use IV’s patent portfolio either defensively or offensively against others. However, as part of an attempt to avoid the dreaded “troll” label, the company had avoided suing others directly for quite some time — though, it’s always hinted that it would eventually. About a year ago, we started to see IV patents showing up in lawsuits, but they had been licensed to other companies first. The notoriously secretive company would never comment on whether or not it had any stake in the results of such lawsuits.
However, Intellectual Ventures has finally stepped up and filed three separate patent infringement cases against nine companies, including Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro and others. Of course, some of these companies have a history of questionable patent activity themselves… Still, this seems like IV and Nathan Myhrvold stepping things up a notch. Consider it a warning to other tech companies: if you don’t agree to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Intellectual Ventures, the company might sue you too.
That’s not how innovation is supposed to work.
Still, perhaps this will convince more people just how problematic our current patent system is today and how we need to move towards fixing it.