Intuit Pays $120 Million 'Don't Sue Us' Tax To Intellectual Ventures

from the money-wasted dept

It's no secret that I have tremendous problems with Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures, which many have described as the world's biggest patent "trolling" operation. The company has raised a ton of money and uses it to buy up thousands of patents. While it hasn't sued anyone, Myhrvold has made clear that's always an option. The company has remained incredibly secret, but it has somehow convinced some big companies to pay hundreds of millions to IV. Due to the secrecy, the details aren't clear -- and some of the deals apparently are a mix of "licensing" and an equity investment. But, still, the numbers are stunning. The latest, as pointed out by Stephen Kinsella is that Intuit has apparently paid $120 million to IV. For what? The right not to get sued. Think about that for a second. This is a pure dead weight net loss to society. It's $120 million that Intuit could have put towards further innovating, or to pay off investors via a dividend. Instead, it goes towards nothing productive, in terms of actually creating new products. It will now likely be used to buy up more patents so that IV can get similar black hole money grabs from other companies, as well. It's like a black hole where real innovation goes to die.

Filed Under: patents, software
Companies: intellectual ventures, intuit


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  1. icon
    Brooks (profile), 1 Jul 2009 @ 2:15pm

    Are you *familiar* with Intuit?

    These are the folks whose Quickbooks Online product *still* doesn't support any browser other than Internet Explorer (the site just says "your browser isn't support, please come back with IE").

    The company's flagship Quickbooks product gets revved every year, with no discernable changes except to data like tax rates.

    The last innovating the the company did was probably in 1998, when Quickbooks gained the ability to have accountant's copies and then to incorporate an accountant's edits back into the customer's books. That was cool.

    So, yeah, IV is a manifestation of a real problem in IP laws. And I'd like to see that problem fixed. But this $120m isn't money that Intuit would have used to innovate. At best, they would have paid a dividend. More likely, they would have squandered it on yet another dead end product development effort.

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