by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:

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. icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), 31 Jan 2011 @ 6:06am

    Dear Mr. Riley

    First, thank you for giving my posts attention. That you argued 3 of my posts is quite flattering. Especially considering such an impressive signature.

    Now, allow me to rebuke...

    #25: "And your qualifications to make this determination are?"
    I'd say my qualifications for that determination would be the commonsense I was gifted with. And if an inexperienced outsider thinks that an item is so obvious that it shouldn't be granted a patent...

    I didn't say that the patent should never have been issued because it failed some technical aspect of the filing process or did not properly outline a technology in the right terminology. I fail to see how I have to have some kind of degree to apply common sense.

    We're talking about a system of storing data in a block-format and retrieval through a menu-like table of contents... You know, I think I need to go turn in my Wii as it appears to violate that patent.

    And, do correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the burden of proof on the applicant to show their requested patent is not an obvious idea? If that's the case, feel free to show how this was not obvious. I know it's not your patent, but you did defend its validity.

    #26: "Some peoples skills are inventing. Many more people who lack the ability to invent are good at having something made and marketing it. Yet they could not have made the product all all if not for inventors.

    So the truth in all this is that the failures are marketing hucksters. They are unethical parasites."
    And how does this apply to the RIM Blackberry issue years past? Someone had a patent that covered a very broad idea (so broad that many besides me thought it shouldn't have been issued) and did nothing with it. Another company had the same idea (it was broad, after all) and actually did something with it. They had their own invention, but were sued because their broad idea ran close to someone else's broad idea. How was invention protected there?

    “They are all unethical parasites”… that’s a pretty broad stroke to apply to so many people who fail to invent. It honestly concerns me that you would make such a statement right above all the groups you affiliate with. And it’s an opinion as well… one that I will now equate to you as well as the groups you represent. You don’t mind if I use this quote that all failures to invent are unethical parasites when discussing the various groups you represent, do you?

    Well, I have an opinion too: The lawyers who go out and buy up patents for the sole purpose of litigating against people who come up with a similar idea; those are the unethical parasites. But, that’s just my opinion.

    #28 "Justice delayed is justice denied, but better late than never."
    Yes, I agree that an inventors 'day in court', as it were, is better late than never. However, much like the person I was actually discussing this with, you fail to address the core of my problem... how is this 'justice' if the people who now hold the patent and have the resources to pursue this had no hand in the invention? That's not justice, it's profiteering. Now, feel free to address the 'justice' of a market based on the buying and selling of patents for the sole purpose of litigating them.

    #30: "Once again you are wrong, because the only recourse patent law gives an inventor when someone steals their invention is to recover damages and to get an injunction."
    I debated grouping this in with my last one, since I'm going to give a very similar response, but since this one attacked me based on my status as Insider (something I fail to see as related, more as an ad hominim attack), I thought "eh, what the hell..."

    If I'm wrong, you failed to state why. You said that litigation is the only legal recourse for an inventor against one who steals their invention. Ok, I agree with you on that... I never said otherwise. But this doesn't answer my statement that the original intended purpose of the patent system was not to provide a market to buy and sell that ability to sue.

    I say "[A] was not the original purpose". You say in response "[B] was the original purpose". So it seems we're in agreement. Thank you for backing me up.

    In closing, Mr. Riley, I think you didn’t think this one out too clearly. Just because I’m not a lawyer or a patent expert does not mean that my arguments are invalid. You come in here with an impressive resume, claim that I and others are wrong, and fail to show why. You also may want to check the condescension at the door… many around here see (smell?) that as blood in the water. I’d argue that I restrained myself very well in my original response; others may not be so successful.

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