Crowdfunded Project Attempts To Unveil Intellectual Ventures' Hidden Web Of Patents

from the might-not-be-so-easy dept

We’ve written about patent trolling giant Intellectual Ventures many times, including how it is notoriously secretive about almost everything. Its deals with companies (often involving them forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to not get sued) are hidden away behind strict non-disclosure agreements. It also hides the various patents in over 1,000 shell companies. At other times it “sells” patents to independent trolls, but most people believe that it still gets a cut of any revenue that comes out of those trolling operations.

An operation called IP Checkups — a “patent analytics firm” — is trying to shine some more light on IV’s secret patent portfolio and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to investigate the company’s patents.

We want to create a publicly-accessible database of patents owned by Intellectual Ventures and its shell companies. We also want to share our investigation with curious observers, using our online IV Thicket case files to show how we unearth Intellectual Ventures’ patent portfolio.

They plan to identify all of the patents, then try to “unravel the complex web of Intellectual Ventures’ shell companies and financial interests to see where Intellectual Ventures is holding its IP assets.” Finally, they plan to reveal all of the information publicly. The company claims that it believes in the patent system, but that it believes that the market for patents needs to be more open and transparent.

I have no idea how effective this project might be, or how well they’ll be able to track down the patents or untangle the shell companies. Attempts by others to do this (on more of an ad hoc basis) haven’t worked out too well. They’re seeking $80,000 for the project, which strikes me as both ambitious for a crowdfunded project and (at the same time) probably way too little money to accomplish the goal. If I were them, I would have started by already revealing a few key IV patents or questionable shell company relationships to first generate interest in going further — but that, alone, could be difficult. Still, it will be interesting to see if they have any success in shining some light on the dark corners of IV’s trolling operations.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: intellectual ventures, ip checkups

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