06.12.16

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Patent Bubbles Implode and Patents Are Passed to Trolls for ‘Monetisation’

Posted in IBM, Patents at 5:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent aggression by proxy not a novel concept

Ballmer on patents

Summary: A brief update on the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, and IBM, which is becoming one of the largest patent aggressors while spreading its patents around

TECHRIGHTS has given several examples of universities with a lot of patents selling their patents to trolls like Intellectual Ventures. This is a vicious cycle of patent granting and litigation (or legal bullying/extortion). Who benefits here? Remember that many of these patents were granted on the backs of taxpayers. Should these taxpayers then be taxed by vicious patent trolls, using the same patents the public paid for? Intellectual Ventures makes neither products nor patents; it’s just a vulture, an insidious predator. It’s a lot worse than hedge funds.

IAM is still grooming the world’s largest patent troll, the Microsoft-connected Intellectual Ventures, having made it their cover page feature in the latest magazine.

Something called Invention Development Fund, or IDF for short, is acting as an army of occupation with patents right now. To quote IAM (which treats this like a wonderful thing, as usual): “As well as building and monetising one of the largest patent portfolios in the business, another part of the Intellectual Ventures story has been its focus on incubating and spinning out successful start-ups. The number of new companies that IV has helped launched is now approaching 10 thanks to its latest spin out – that of its Invention Development Fund. IV has kept the news fairly low key to this point although it did disclose some details in a blog post last month. Luckily for IPBC delegates, Paul Levins of IDF was on hand on the last panel of the day called ‘Adapt or die’ to give a little more insight into what the newly independent business does. “We were the third fund of IV,” he told the audience. “In the course of the last three weeks we’ve spun out from IV. What we’d describe ourselves as doing is about new invention creation, invention services and product development. It’s a specific class of invention creation targeted at companies interested in doing new things in the marketplace, but who may have previously found appeal in the open innovation space. Many times you quickly discover there’s a lot of pieces missing with open innovation. Companies who work with us have a partner who’s willing to sit beside them and place bets on future technologies. We do that by creating brand new inventions that’ve been outsourced from a very well-curated inventor network. You get open innovation but you still have the benefit of getting IP protection and product development.” The general message seems to be watch this space. We understand a full rebranding of IDF is currently in the works. There should be more details by the end of the summer.”

This isn’t about creating anything but about coercion. Intellectual Ventures already has thousands of satellite firms, usually created for litigation purposes (empty shells with no/little staff), so what’s another one for? This is not about creating innovation/products but all about taxing those who do. Recall what IBM has begun doing amid layoffs and see this very recent article titled “IBM’s Odd New Role: Selling Patents To Silicon Valley”. It says the following: “Alex Lee, head of patent research at EnvisionIP, writes most of the IBM-purchased patents appear to fit into Silicon Valley companies’ defensive strategies. In other words, the California companies aren’t snapping up patents as a way of expanding into new areas that would have been unknowable mysteries to them otherwise. Instead, the patents help the Silicon Valley companies ward off suits by various parties that might otherwise be able to argue about who came up with an idea first.”

This actually overlooks IBM’s aggressive patent strategy, which goes back to its days of litigation against Sun. Perhaps IBM is beginning to realise that its patents aren’t so valuable after all? IBM has been selling quite a few of its business units to China and even outsourced some jobs, such as office suites development, to China. All that’s left now at IBM is a large pile of patents (bigger than anybody else’s).

Another patent bubble explodes/implodes, according to IAM [1, 2], this time in China where there is a desperate ‘monetisation’ effort and patents are equated with all sorts of ludicrous notions.

We have entered a scary time when patents are like aging nuclear weapons or old stockpiles awaiting expiry, so they are being ‘monetised’ (or used) by airdrops and sales to rogue entities. This won’t end nicely. The next few posts will focus on examples of patent trolls.

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