Motorola Photon 4G / flickr / marc.flores

Intellectual Ventures filed its newest lawsuit yesterday [PDF], this time against Motorola. The development suggests that the world’s biggest patent-assertion company is going to get directly involved in patent attacks on mobile phones. Buried in the details of the suit are some details that may reveal a bit more about how IV operates. To wit:

  •  The five patents being used against Motorola come from various backgrounds—companies like Ohio’s Khyber Technology, a company called Malibu Networks, and a Maryland company called Hyperspace Communications. At least one of the patents now being used against Motorola—U.S. Pat. No. 6,557,054—has been used in litigation before. That patent was part of a lawsuit against Microsoft and Apple back in 2004, brought by the original patent owner, a company called Teleshuttle Technologies. See Teleshuttle Technologies Amended Complaint [PDF]. The docket indicates the parties reached a settlement in 2006.
  • The shell company called Pragmatus AV—which has now sued YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Yahoo—probably has a close relationship with IV. In the new lawsuit against Motorola, IV is represented by Feinberg Day, a small Silicon Valley IP firm, as well as Delaware firm Farnan LLP (both suits were filed in Delaware.) Those are the same two law firms that represent Pragmatus in the lawsuit it filed against Yahoo earlier this week, a suit we covered in The Patent Examiner yesterday.
  • IV may have a direct financial interest in the Pragmatus litigations, although that can’t be known for sure at this point. IV spokespersons have said that when they sell off patents to small patent enforcement companies, they sometimes have an agreement to get a cut of any settlement payments that come from litigation.

In the new suit, IV also provides some numbers reflecting its success. The company has more than 35,000 “assets,” which is the term IV uses to describe both patents and patent applications that it owns. More than 3,000 of those patents and applications were created internally at IV, while the rest were acquired.

IV has earned more than $2 billion in licensing revenue from those patents, and claims $400 million of that has gone to inventors.

Intellectual Ventures’ brief statement emphasizes that the patent-holding company has already signed agreements with “many of the top handset manufacturers in the world.”

Dow Jones’ report notes that the new suit “creates a potentially awkward scenario, with a firm partly backed by Google now presenting a Google acquisition target with a new legal headache.” Google was an early investor in IV, back in the days when founder Nathan Myhrvold was presenting his new enterprise as a “patent defense fund” rather than an aggressive licensor.


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