Bill Gates' New Career? Patent Troll For Nathan Myhrvold?

from the kinder-capitalism? dept

Plenty of folks have been wondering just what Bill Gates is up to now that he's left his full-time position at Microsoft. Longtime rabble-rouser theodp has alerted us to one thing that Bill Gates is spending at least some of his time on: a bunch of patent applications for a company named "Searete LLC" -- including this one for rewarding influencers and another for a method to inject fluids into animals.

So, what's Searete? Well, it appears (warning: pdf file) that it's one of the many ultra secret shell front companies for Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures, a company that unabashedly plans to be a huge patent tollbooth on just about any kind of innovation. We've already noted that he's been setting up shell companies as part of the operation's secrecy.

In some articles about Myhrvold's methods, it talks about how he hosts these big dinners, where he invites a bunch of big thinkers to sit around and talk, has some lawyers sit off to the side writing down everything they say, and then turns the discussions into patents. My guess is that these Bill Gates Searete patents fall into that camp (some of the other big names on some of the patents are folks like Danny Hillis and Craig Mundie, and we're waiting for Seinfeld's name to show up on a patent for computers that are moist and chewy like cake). Still, it makes you wonder why Bill Gates is letting Nathan Myhrvold lock up his ideas as part of his patent extortion scheme.

Filed Under: bill gates, nathan myhrvold, patents
Companies: intellectual ventures, searete

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  1. identicon
    Robert Z. Cashman, 11 Nov 2008 @ 9:59am

    Demonize the patent system, not those using it in a way you don't approve.

    It’s interesting to me that your first impression is to assume that Bill Gates is up to no good by participating in new patents. Remember, you’re living every day with many inventions that he either created, inspired, paid for, or brought to the public. There’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that he or Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures have any intention other than to work a profitable business model where patents are bought, licensed, and sold on the market as if they are a commodity.

    There is nothing wrong with creating a shell company, nor is it wrong to keep that company “ultra secret” as you have described it as being. This is simply smart business sense.

    If your argument is that their business model stifles creativity and goes against the purpose of the U.S. patent system, then your issue is not with them, but with the patent laws. If that is the case, then you should be one of the speakers in favor of patent reform and should be writing letters to your legislators to get this done, or not.

    Demonizing people who are doing what you could do too is not the approach to solving issues with the patent system.

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