A little more than a decade ago, famed tech innovator Nathan Myhrvold founded Intellectual Ventures, and the company has gone on to acquire more than 30,000 patents controlling advances of intellectual property in many different disciplines. According to a new report by TechDirt, the patent trolling company is running out of cash and seeking more than 3 Billion dollars in additional support from backers.
Reuters is reporting that Intellectual Ventures has gone so far as to completely stop patenting new intellectual property during this fund-raising effort, and it appears that many insiders are backing away from a business model they may not have intended to unleash in the first place.
Microsoft Corp, an early investor in Intellectual Venture is not invested in any new funding of the entity “at this time,” spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said. Google Inc appears to be in full agreement with that mindset based on the fact that even as an early investor, the company has recently found itself opposed to Intellectual Ventures in many aspects of the patent policy debate and has now publicly stated it too will not participate in any new funding campaign. “We joined Intellectual Ventures’ first fund as a way to defend ourselves against unjustified patent claims,” Google spokesman Matt Kallman said. “Once we came to understand IV’s operating model, we didn’t join its later funds.”
As far back at 2006 techdirt and other media sources were already reporting about the alleged bait-and-switch pitch Mr. Myhrvold used to bring in the original investment in what has become a monstrous patent hoarding entity that brings in revenue by taxing innovation rather than fostering or protecting it. According to tech dirt “He told everyone that he was building a “patent defense fund,” which tech companies could share to avoid getting sued by others. It was only later that the companies realized they were enabling a new massive patent troll instead. And it seems that many are not happy.”
As patent trolls continue to threaten smaller firms and startups by choking them in the cradle, they are also raising the ire of larger companies who they slowly bleed for profit with seemingly innocuous patents that later become large cost lawsuits or long fee licensing settlements. The problem has gotten so out of hand in recent years that PatentlyO.com (the world’s leading patent law blog) reported the mind-bending fact that Haliburton actually tried to file a patent on the concept of patent trolling… under the twisted logic that they would be able to counter-sue any patent troll who attacked them with a claim that they were violating Haliburton’s own patent on the idea of patent trolling. When innovation of that sort is being applied to overcoming patent trolling, rather than inventing new products and services or enhancing existing ones – society pays a very high price in the lack of advancement or outright stagnation caused by a toxic business environment.
Perhaps a man as bright as Mr. Myhrvold will reach the realization that obtaining funding from innovators in the long term by creating and actually producing worthwhile products (utilizing the patents Intellectual Ventures already owns) is a much better business model than the short term benefits of lock-boxing new ideas and exacting a tariff from anyone interested in moving technology forward with the gun-boat diplomacy tactics that patent trolls are known for wielding.
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