Intellectual Ventures Sues AT&T, Sprint And T-Mobile; While Saying That Such Lawsuits Are Evidence Of Progress

from the that's-chutzpah dept

After years of not suing anyone (but always threatening that it might, someday), Intellectual Ventures has become more and more aggressive of late in suing lots of companies. A few weeks ago it sued AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile over a bunch of patents that (of course) involved some of IV's favorite shell companies. Just as it was preparing this lawsuit, a VP from IV went public with an attempt to argue that all this litigation is a sign of innovation at work. The article is rather shocking in how it presents its argument. It mainly relies on false claims that correlation means causation, concerning historical periods of innovation and lawsuits over patents. Of course, what it ignores is that the patent fights often come right after the innovation, not before. In other words, the patent battles aren't a sign that innovation is working. Rather it's a sign of patent holders freaking out that others are innovating. It's entirely about hindering innovation, not helping move it forward.

Along those lines, the folks at M-CAM who continue to call out bogus claims in patent lawsuits analyzed the patents in this IV lawsuit and found them... well... lacking:
Our systems found nearly 500 AT&T patents, with similar claims, that predate the fifteen asserted patents. Sprint Nextel also owns 12 patents that predate the asserted portfolio.
M-CAM also questions the claims that these lawsuits have anything at all to do with innovation, and hint at more nefarious reasons for the use of a bunch of shell companies:
Is IV’s patent litigation helping inventors or investors? Considering that the bulk of the patents in suit were each “acquired” from what the USPTO characterizes as a “merger” with a different relatively unknown LLC, we’ll let you decide. Seems to us that it simply represents an attempt to use opacity and “hidden weapons” for a tactical assault having ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with innovation. In fact, these kinds of structures are also typically employed for tax “optimization” which is to say, to avoid paying taxes for any economic gains resulting from a successful assault, ahem sorry again, we mean “settlement”.
By the way, you may have noticed that Verizon is conspicuously absent from the list of mobile operators being sued here. That's because Verizon paid the entrance fee and is a "member" in the IV club... which apparently only cost the company $350 million. Oh yeah... and it then became an enabler. One of the patents in the new lawsuit... once was owned by Verizon.

Filed Under: mobile phones, patents
Companies: at&t, intellectual ventures, sprint, t-mobile


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  1. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 2 Mar 2012 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Here's an idea...

    Yeah, just use the lose-it part, and lose the use-it part.

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