Intellectual Ventures(IV), a patent rogue company, is not dead, but it is also dying step by step. This is good news for technology companies and startups that have been directly or indirectly extorted money from IV. IV has done more than any other company to promote the ugly business of patent trolling.
According to Business Week, IV didn't invent any new tricks, except to fire employees.
Last Tuesday, IV sent a memo to employees informing them about the layoffs. IV has more than 700 employees, which means that 140 employees will be laid off. "We are making changes consistent with this layoff that will allow us to maintain our leadership in the invention market. Our assets-people and intellectual property-are among the best in the industry," IV said in a statement."
Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft executive, founded IV. The company's early business was dominated by the aggregation of thousands of patents. For a time, IV deceived the media and the public with stories about recruiting talents and treating malaria, but soon after, its true nature as a patent hooligan gradually emerged.
As scholars explain, IV's main activity is to use old patents to maintain thousands of shell companies in order to extract licensing fees from companies of all sizes. However, many of IV's early investors, such as Google and Apple, broke with the patent troll due to a growing aversion to the IV business model. Silicon Valley also mentioned this after the Senate patent reform bill was aborted.
In response, IV worked harder to lobby in Washington, opening a political action committee for patent trolls in February. It also retains a strong public relations department, creating regular news articles and blogs that praise the real inventors.
While the reported 20% layoffs may be a sign that IV is finally truly dying, the technology industry cannot relax just yet. Last month, IP agent Wayne reported that IV's re-emergence with hundreds of new patents means that the nightmare of patent trolls is unlikely to end soon.