NY Times Article – Turning Patents Into “Invention Capital”.
Intellectual Ventures is a self-proclaimed “invention company” located in Bellevue, Washington. Nathan Myhrvold, an ex-Microsoft executive, founded the company in 2000 with the goal to nurture fundamental innovation and invention. To date, Intellectual Ventures has acquired at least 30,000 patents. Intellectual Ventures’ activities are not limited to buying patents, however. The company apparently has 650 employees including scientists and engineers, and an in-house invention effort and lab that last year applied for 450 patents.
Most interesting is Mr. Myhrvold’s expressed interest in building a market for “invention capital,” where patents will be valued as a separate asset class, like real estate or securities. He recently articulated his vision in an article published in the Harvard Business Review here.
We highly recommend reading both of these articles. Non-practicing entities (NPEs) such as Intellectual Ventures are often maligned in industry as “patent trolls”, since they generally do not create any products themselves and instead generate revenue primarily by licensing patented technologies. However, could more of their business model really be what our economy needs to finance start-ups with new ideas, and revitalize otherwise dying industries? Any thoughts from our readers?
See also an earlier 2007 post by AT! on the Intellectual Ventures company here.