Patents

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
patents

Companies:
intellectual ventures, ocean tomo



More Patents That Have Touched Both Intellectual Ventures And Ocean Tomo Showing Up In Lawsuits

from the this-is-not-good dept

Last year, we noted that more and more patents previously held by Intellectual Ventures were showing up in lawsuits -- with rumors swirling that IV still got a cut of money collected on at least some of those patents. Then, in December, IV finally filed its first patent infringement lawsuits directly. However, more of its "former" patents are popping up in lawsuits as well. Joe Mullin has the details of yet another secretive shell patent holding company, called Pragmatus, that has some former IV patents and sued Facebook, YouTube and Linkedin last year, and now is suing basically all of the cable industry, claiming that its patents (5,581,479 and 5,636,139) cover the rather broad concept of video-on-demand.

What's equally interesting (and/or troubling, depending on your point of view) is that these patents also passed through Ocean Tomo, the favored tool of laundering patents by auctioning them off. For years, we've questioned the claims of Ocean Tomo that it's really just helping to establish a "market" to extract the value of patents. In reality, it seems that it's created a tool for putting a massive tollbooth on innovation, taking broad and useless patents (i.e., patents that really don't teach anything new or non-obvious at all) and putting them in the hands of lawyers who sue companies who actually innovate. It's worth noting that the patents that IV used in its own lawsuit last year also appeared to travel via Ocean Tomo (it appears that's what AUCTNYC8 really is).

Once again, the deeper you dig into these stories, you realize that it's really just a bunch of lawyers passing around patents to figure out who can sue companies who actually do stuff. This is why it's frustrating when the press falls for IV's ridiculous spin about how it's really inventing things. As far as we can tell, nothing "invented" at IV has hit the market in any meaningful way in its many years of existence. But a bunch of the patents that it has bought and sold over time are being asserted against a wide range of companies who actually do innovate. I'm really at a loss as to how anyone can look at this setup and claim the system is working. The system seems to simply be a way to extract money from companies that actually innovate and give it to a bunch of lawyers who think this is all a big game.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2011 @ 5:26am

    Ocean Tomo does create a market. Like it or not, there is plenty of value to be found in broad, defensible patents which cover areas of current use.

    Extracting value in a patent comes in a few ways: building a product yourself, licensing it out to others, or in litigating those who violate the patent. When the first two points don't work out (for whatever reason) the third is where the value is.

    The original inventors have been paid and moved on to other stuff, and so on down the line. Money has been invested, and these people are there to extract the maximum value for it. It is a little like a lottery, they will likely go through a series of cases that get thrown out, but one or two will stick and turn the situation profitable. In the mean time, the original inventors have already been paid off, and the cycle of development begins again.

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