Wireless infrastructure could be the next target of a large patent troll
Intellectual Ventures (IV) is a company that buys old patents and
extorts forces productive businesses to pay IV licensing fees. Patent Trolls such as IV account for 67 percent of all new lawsuits.
But over the last few year, the New York Times, NPR and even the Wall Street Journal have all turned against companies such as IV. One reason for the turn in public opinion is the growing number of studies which show that patent trolls are causing a number of businesses to be forced into near bankruptcy by defending these lawsuits.
Studies put litigation expenses at $29 billion a year due to patent trolling and estimate that complaints from non-manufacturers make up two-thirds of complaints filed. Non-practicing entities are patent holders who don’t make products. IV has never produced a single product and brought it to market. Their reputation is so poor that Apple declined to participate in IV’s newest trolling fund.
“[Venture capital] investment would have been at least $8.1 billion higher over the course of ﬁve years but for litigation brought by frequent patent litigators,” professor of marketing Catherine Tucker wrote in the paper [PDF]. While a little bit of litigation can indicate a strong innovation ecosystem, Tucker said, too many frivolous lawsuits scare VCs away. – VentureBeat
So, it should make wireless companies a bit nervous to see that a recent report (brought to our attention by GigaOM) shows that IV has now acquired more than 200 new patents, in tech areas such as wireless infrastructure and cloud computing.
Intellectual Ventures has a long history of questionable conduct. Whether it is taking a patent donated to a non-profit (with explicit language to not sue others) and using that to sue others, suing small businesses over absurdly broad patents that are thrown out in Court for being a basic and obvious idea and claiming that patent reform would create ‘uncertainty.’