For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

NPE Intellectual Ventures Releases Searchable List of its Patents

Readers of the IPKat are surely familiar with the NPE Intellectual Ventures, which is one of the most active NPEs in the United States.  [Prior Kat mentions here and here, among others.]
Intellectual Ventures's website claims that it has acquired more than 70,000 IP assets in 39 countries, resulting in nearly 40,000 "active monetization programs." 

And now, Intellectual Ventures (IV) has made a database of nearly all of its IP assets searchable online or downloadable in an Excel spreadsheet (hat tip Inside Counsel). 

IV explains that the purpose of making its database publically searchable on its Patent Finder site:
We’ve made it convenient to search for assets by assembling the majority of our portfolio in one place. Customers interested in buying or licensing assets from our portfolio can search the database to find individual patents or whole technology areas of interest to them. Inventors looking to sell their patent assets to us can browse to better understand the technology areas of interest to us. Everyone can use the interactive tool to locate patent assets by [number], title, or country.
In addition, according to the FAQ section of IV's website, IV acknowledges the public interest in its business strategies as an active NPE:
As one of the largest global patent holders in the world, we are often the subject of curiosity. Customers want to see what is currently available to license or buy and others are curious about our holdings and our intentions. While much of this information is available through various global patent office databases, we have decided to assemble the majority of our portfolio in a single place, providing our customers and others who are interested a convenient, publically available list of our assets.
Is this an attempt to improve IV's image in the corporate world and shed the "patent troll" reputation, this Kat wonders? 

7 comments:

Jeff Roberts said...

As IV is the de facto godfather of the patent trolls, it's a bit late for the company to shed its troll reputation ;)

My guess is that Intellectual Ventures is predicting that the Innovation Act (America's latest tilt at patent reform) will pass next year, and figures it won't hurt to get out in front of a provision which will force trolls to identify their masters.

Anonymous said...

Everyone can be rescued from the dark side. IV can be a great force for good if it wants to be, providing a central source to acquire commercialisable research. It just needs monitoring so that it does not use its vast portfolio aggressively.

My Mums Factory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
My Mums Factory said...

A nice friendly public spirited way of providing notice of patent numbers to future defendants under 35 U.S.C. § 287?

Anonymous said...

My Mums Factory @ 9:40:

Not likely.

The published database does not carry the requisite information

To wit: "or the abbreviation “pat.” together with an address of a posting on the Internet, accessible to the public without charge for accessing the address, that associates the patented article with the number of the patent"

Andrew Schulman said...

There is less here than meets the eye, but some interesting questions are raised when a patent portfolio list provides a searchable list of its portfolio.

Less than meets the eye: What IV provides is LESS searchable than what one can get from the US PTO, EPO, or Google Patent web sites. Whereas they provide complex searches (in the case of the US PTO, specifying words or phrases in claims), IV merely allows searching for a single word in patent titles. Titles are notoriously poor indicators of a patent's true scope.

But let's say IV had actually provided some added value beyond what is available e.g. at the US PTO. Perhaps synonym searching or concept clustering. Something that would make it worthwhile for a potential target/infringer to come to this site and do searches.

Hmm, IV could then capture the searches, and possibly backtrace to the searching company or law firm. There's already some (uninformed?) speculation that Google Patents may do this. One's searches can disclose a good deal of information (which is why US PTO has guidelines for examiners doing searches).

Come to think of it, why aren't so-called "trolls" doing this sort of policing of the market? While the word "troll" evokes the image of someone passively sitting at a fixed spot, awaiting passers-by who can be charged a toll, there actually is a place for some entity to go out and police the market for enfringement. Collecting societies such as ASCAP and BMI in the US perform this role. Obviously detecting patent infringement is far different from detecting copyright infringement, but the job of policing live performances, Muzak versions of songs, etc. isn't trivial, so there may be some applicability here.

In other words, instead of trolls we might think of the need for "trawls." An organization which patents X is not necessarily endowed with the ability to go out and find others who are doing X.

Anonymous said...

IV is not the owner of each of the patents they claim to own at
http://patents.intven.com/finder.
For instance, the assignee of US patent 7333511 is Optimum Communications Services, Inc., which is not any IV affiliate.

Are your company's patents also found among IV's claimed holdings?

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