by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 4th 2007 8:59pm
While it used to be that patent hoarding companies like Acacia would file their lawsuits under their own names, more recently the trend has been to hide behind a series of shell companies. The latest is Altitude Capital Partners, a company we've discussed in the past. It's raised hundreds of millions of dollars solely to invest in patents. While officially a private equity firm, it's clear that the company is clearly just a patent hoarder. While it appears to have changed its website somewhat, it used to list "Number and Quality of Potential Infringers" as an investment criteria. It's clearly taken that to heart in its latest series of lawsuits against companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL, RIM, Palm and many others. The interesting thing, though, is that Altitude is doing its best to hide its involvement in these lawsuits, just like it tried to hide an earlier investment in Visto. Instead, it's been using a series of shell companies that are clearly formed solely for the purpose of filing these lawsuits. In the case of Altitude, it appears to be quite difficult to even track down that they're involved at all. Acacia has been doing the same thing as well. There could be a few reasons for the use of such shell companies -- but a big one might be to pretend that these really are cases of "little inventors" vs "big companies" instead of the truth, which appears to be big time investors with hundreds of millions of dollars looking to use questionable patents to squeeze money out of successful companies. Just how Jefferson and Madison envisaged things when they set out to create the patent system.
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