Crowdfunded Project Attempts To Unveil Intellectual Ventures' Hidden Web Of Patents

from the might-not-be-so-easy dept

We've written about patent trolling giant Intellectual Ventures many times, including how it is notoriously secretive about almost everything. Its deals with companies (often involving them forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to not get sued) are hidden away behind strict non-disclosure agreements. It also hides the various patents in over 1,000 shell companies. At other times it "sells" patents to independent trolls, but most people believe that it still gets a cut of any revenue that comes out of those trolling operations.

An operation called IP Checkups -- a "patent analytics firm" -- is trying to shine some more light on IV's secret patent portfolio and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to investigate the company's patents.
We want to create a publicly-accessible database of patents owned by Intellectual Ventures and its shell companies. We also want to share our investigation with curious observers, using our online IV Thicket case files to show how we unearth Intellectual Ventures’ patent portfolio.
They plan to identify all of the patents, then try to "unravel the complex web of Intellectual Ventures' shell companies and financial interests to see where Intellectual Ventures is holding its IP assets." Finally, they plan to reveal all of the information publicly. The company claims that it believes in the patent system, but that it believes that the market for patents needs to be more open and transparent.

I have no idea how effective this project might be, or how well they'll be able to track down the patents or untangle the shell companies. Attempts by others to do this (on more of an ad hoc basis) haven't worked out too well. They're seeking $80,000 for the project, which strikes me as both ambitious for a crowdfunded project and (at the same time) probably way too little money to accomplish the goal. If I were them, I would have started by already revealing a few key IV patents or questionable shell company relationships to first generate interest in going further -- but that, alone, could be difficult. Still, it will be interesting to see if they have any success in shining some light on the dark corners of IV's trolling operations.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    arcan, Oct 26th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    who wants to bet on IV having a patent concerning discovery of IV's hidden web of patents?

     

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    •  
      icon
      :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 26th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Lurching Incredulous Recursions!

      Or maybe, just maybe, they own the patent on "crowd-sourced-funding innovation(s) over a network"!!

      (duh-duh-*duhh*!)

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    How do we know this isn't an IV shell corporation...

    They could just be 'generating interest' in licensing IV's great patent portfolio....

     

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    •  
      icon
      John Fenderson (profile), Oct 26th, 2012 @ 3:12pm

      Re: How do we know this isn't an IV shell corporation...

      They could just be 'generating interest' in licensing IV's great patent portfolio....

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        John Fenderson (profile), Oct 26th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

        Re: Re: How do we know this isn't an IV shell corporation...

        Comment fail!

        What I meant to say was:

        You misspelled "paying IV their protection money".

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Lloyd Kaufman, Oct 26th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Patent Trolls

    I will contribute to Indie GoGo project to xpose patent trolls.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Baldaur Regis (profile), Oct 26th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    FUD is part of their business model. Their PATENTED business model.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous14, Oct 26th, 2012 @ 2:51pm

    crowdfunded investigative journalism

    This is the future right? The implosion of newspaper revenues will leave much of investigative journalism resorting to either 'sponsorship' or 'crowdfunding'. At least crowdfunding allows for an air of independence and integrity.

     

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    •  
      icon
      John Fenderson (profile), Oct 26th, 2012 @ 3:15pm

      Re: crowdfunded investigative journalism

      I hope so. Newspapers (and TV) largely stopped doing investigative reporting decades ago, shortly before they largely stopped doing journalism at all.

       

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  •  
    icon
    wmc (profile), Oct 26th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    Source for social justice

    Crowdfunding will become a force for social justice. See Crowdfunding the Supreme Court: http://www.indiegogo.com/supremecourt

    Also see my blog posting on how to crowdfund. http://crowdfundingnow.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-to-crowdfund.html

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

    I hope for their sake that the people at the Crowdfunded Project have taken great care to remain completely and thoroughly anonymous so that they are not personally driven into the ground, bankruptcy, or jail like Pirate Bay and Winkileaks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2012 @ 3:36am

      Re:

      Except, of course, Pirate Bay is still up and running as though nothing happened, and there's still a rather heavy fog of discomfort regarding conflict of interest of judges who are members of the recording industry in one way or another passing judgement over anyone in anything regarding music....

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Lily, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 10:14am

    Mike Masnick - we heard you!

    In response to your post, we updated our campaign page to give a glimpse into our methodology for finding IV patents. After a week or so, we'll follow up with a public demo of the database, populated by some of the initial patents we find.

    Piqued your interest?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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