from the kinder-capitalism? dept
So, what's Searete? Well, it appears (warning: pdf file) that it's one of the many ultra secret shell front companies for Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures, a company that unabashedly plans to be a huge patent tollbooth on just about any kind of innovation. We've already noted that he's been setting up shell companies as part of the operation's secrecy.
In some articles about Myhrvold's methods, it talks about how he hosts these big dinners, where he invites a bunch of big thinkers to sit around and talk, has some lawyers sit off to the side writing down everything they say, and then turns the discussions into patents. My guess is that these Bill Gates Searete patents fall into that camp (some of the other big names on some of the patents are folks like Danny Hillis and Craig Mundie, and we're waiting for Seinfeld's name to show up on a patent for computers that are moist and chewy like cake). Still, it makes you wonder why Bill Gates is letting Nathan Myhrvold lock up his ideas as part of his patent extortion scheme.