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
    Peter Suavez, 11 Nov 2008 @ 2:03pm

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

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

    Couldn't it be said that by exposing how this system works / is being exploited to the public, more interest and awareness will be raised and more people might do exactly what you would prefer the action to be?

    "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."

    There is nothing wrong with it, no. Nor is there anything wrong with saying that it's wrong. Right?

    "[..] 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."

    Or you post it on a website and listen to what other people think. Hell, you might even inspire a few to write to their legislators.

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