Intellectual Ventures, a firm that has spawned thousands of shell companies to pursue patent lawsuits, is starting a political action committee that could influence this year’s midterm elections.
According to The Hill, the giant patent troll submitted a filing to the Federal Elections Commission to open a PAC, which will have the power to donate money to candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate.
IV’s decision to increase its political clout comes at a sensitive time for trolls, which don’t sell products based on their patents but instead amass old patents in order to demand money from companies that do. Currently, Congress is preparing a law that could undercut their business model, while the White House and the Federal Trade Commission are launching new tools to curb troll abuses.
IV’s attempt to persuade Congress of the virtues of trolling has become more difficult in the last year, in the face of mounting evidence of the damage trolls do to the economy. Meanwhile, large tech companies like Google and Apple are complaining about the nuisance of defending hundreds of troll lawsuits, and news outlets from NPR to the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal have cast a jaundiced view of the trolls.
“We don’t have any details to share about the PAC filing,” said an IV spokesperson in response to an email question about how the company will direct the PAC money.
It’s a good bet, however, that the company will target Congressional freshman with messages about “protecting property” and “supporting innovation.” The company once used such rhetoric to charm Malcolm Gladwell and others, but now IV’s demands for money are regarded by many as a tax and a nuisance.
The PAC news comes after reports last summer that Intellectual Ventures was seeking $3 billion in investments to expand its trolling activities.