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Summary:

Neither public shaming nor calls for reform from the highest level of government has dissuaded Intellectual Ventures from its massive patent lawsuit campaign against businesses large and small.

Troll
photo: Flickr / puuikibeach

Intellectual Ventures, which acquires old patents in order to extract tribute from technology and retail companies, appears unconcerned with growing revulsion about its business model.

On a day that the White House declared it was “taking on patent trolls,” IV announced two new lawsuits against JP Morgan and other banks for infringement of its patents, including one that issued in the year 2001 for “Systems and methods for authorizing a transaction card.” The patent, which lasts until 2018, appears to cover a basic verification system:

IV patent screenshot

Intellectual Ventures has gained notoriety for promulgating so-called “patent trolling,” in which shell companies that don’t produce anything but acquire old patents in order to threaten lawsuits against companies that do. Since a patent defense in federal court costs millions of dollars, most companies — especially startups — acquiesce to the trolls’ demands for a license.

IV’s founder, former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold, has remained impervious to criticism that he is damaging the economy through his decision to game a broken patent system. Even as technology startups and small businesses protest the sprawl of patent litigation, Myhrvold and the company have instead tried to foster goodwill by casting themselves in the tradition of America’s great innovators.

IV’s charm offensive may be wearing thin, however, as a growing legion of opponents criticize the trolling business. On Tuesday, the White House published a blog post announcing executive action to curb troll activity, and a report that notes how trolls:

have “over-asserted” their patents, pursuing legal action in a way that does not increase incentives for innovation, and in fact reduces these incentives and complicates normal business operation.”

The White House initiative may have limited effectiveness, however, as critics note the troll problem may lie in a system that permits overly broad patents in the first place. To curb trolling, influential financial blogger Felix Salmon has proposed using the SEC and other federal institutions to prosecute the trolls.

Meanwhile, on a popular level, the state of Vermont and radio shows like This American Life have highlighted the plight of small businesses taxed by the patent trolls.

  1. Watch the snakes spin out of Shelby’s (aka Medusa) head. PR fail.

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  2. You’re far too kind to Myhrvold – he’s not a troll, he’s a parasite. He sucks wealth out of the economy, weakens the forces of innovation, and adds no value. Calling his PR campaign a “charm offensive” is offensive to charming people everywhere, it’s just fraud and deception.

    But thanks for not buying any of their lies and calling them on it.

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  3. Congress changed funding for the USPTO office a while back. Now they are dependent on filer fees. So the examiners (the ones who haven’t quit) take the attitude: take the file, issue the patent, let the courts sort it out. That’s how we end up with a patent for a STICK! (#6.360.693) Blame Congress, again.

    Nathan’s only worth $650mil. How much is enough?

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  4. Inventor At Large Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Dear John,

    Would you and the rest of Big Business please take your head out of your asses and have a good look around! Your article is so far skewed to one side it could be considered as communist ranting! Long has Big Biz had its way with Inventors. You want to lay blame lay – try going after the real criminals in this story! Whose that? Let’s start with the Patent Office. They are incompetent WHORES who take money from anyone for anything, then when a dispute arises it’s up to POOR Inventors like myself to try and defend their position in court. Can you guess how that usually turns out?? Then there’s Big Business! Would you like to know how many of my Inventions have been stolen by them? I doubt you have the Balls to ask me! Of all the articles I have read on this subject not one of you so called Unbiased Reporters have ever reached out to talk with a Grass roots Inventor like myself. Why do you think their is a Patent Office? If Big Biz would quit ripping off Inventors then their would be no need for Patent Trolls to keep them in place! I hope many more Big Biz companies go down for STEALING inventions! I have considerable evidence of Trillions of dollars of waste in the Patent Industry but I doubt you’d listen too that either! And you’re defending BANKS against a law suits for infringement! I guess JP, Goldman and the rest never did anything to nearly BANKRUPT your entire country??? I’m wondering how much they paid you to write this trash? You want real answers? I’m ready to talk, are you ready to listen? 250.999.8691 or IamInventing@gmail.com JLC – “Inventor at Large!!”

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