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Patents Technology

Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation 75

Posted by timothy
from the look-sir-it-has-atoms dept.
pacopico writes Intellectual Ventures, the world's most infamous patent troll, has changed its tune — maybe. According to a story in Businessweek, the company has started turning a number of its ideas into products, ranging from hydration sensors to waterless washing machines and self-healing concrete. The story reveals some new tidbits about IV, including that it pays inventors $17,000 per idea, has a new start-up fund and that one of its cofounders got tossed out of school for hacking. IV is obvisouly trying to improve its reputation, but plenty of skeptics remain who think this is just a ruse meant to draw attention away from its patent lawsuits.

Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @02:56PM (#47828919) Homepage Journal

    Is that punishing patent trolls causes innovation.

  • Mosquito laser (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dfsmith (960400) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @03:26PM (#47829171) Homepage Journal

    So can I get a laser mosquito blaster [intellectualventures.com] in time for my next party?

  • by erice (13380) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @03:49PM (#47829361) Homepage

    The article mentioned a handful of startups but there is no mention of any of these startups actually producing a product that people can buy. If you actually could buy a product or service from an Intellectual Ventures backed company this would be a powerful affirmation that IV is a real contributor and not just a troll.

    That this PR piece makes no mention of such a product, making it very clear this has not happened. I expect this will never happened. IV startups are not meant to produce and sell product. They are meant to be bought out and bought out for a much larger sum than IV could get from just licensing the IP.

    Now, there is nothing wrong with a startup selling out before it can bring it's product to market but it is a little bit dishonest to plan it that way.

    Which, I suppose is an improvement over IV's normal policy of simply sitting on technology until a practicing entity re-invents it and then suing them. Still, it is a long way from showing that the world is better with Intellectual Ventures than without them.

  • by IcyHando'Death (239387) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @04:29PM (#47829677)

    I know patent trolls are about as popular here as child molesters, but here I am, coming to their defense..,

    Suppose you are the inventor of something marvelous, like say, intermittent windshield wipers. You are not likely to have the capital to start your own car company, so how do you monetize your invention? You do the obvious: approach the existing car companies about licensing. Now, if you don't happen to know the story of Rober Kearns, you may want to look him up, but the TL;DR version is that if you are not ready to spend years and $MILLIONS in court, the giants will just steam roll right over you, taking your invention with them.

    Enter the "patent troll".

    Patent trolls are your key to monetizing your invention. They have the expertise and the money to see a court case through. They are not producers themselves so the multi-nationals can't shut them down using their own patent portfolios. If the patent is a good one, they stand a real chance of winning in court and they compete against each other for such opportunities, so they form an alternative market where your invention can fetch you a tidy sum. They will expect a discount obviously; they assume a substantial risk, after all, due to the uncertain nature of litigation.

    The facts that patent trolls don't invent anything and don't make anything are often held up here on Slashdot as reasons to deride these companies. These are red herrings. Many companies exist which perform valuable functions in society without doing either of these things. Patent trolls are among them.

    I will grant that there have been some absurd patent cases ltigated by patent trolls, but that's a separate issue. If anybody's reputation should suffer for these absurdities, it should be the patent office's. The troll is just doing its duty by its investors to run a profitable company by obtaining maximum value for its patent assests.

  • by MattGWU (86623) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @05:42PM (#47830203)

    Their patents aren't 'patent for intermittent windshield wipers' complete with schematics. Their patents are for 'device, method, or process to remove liquids from a surface which may or may not need to be glass in a manner TBD'.

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