Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

NY Times Article – Turning Patents Into “Invention Capital”.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on February 21, 2010

An interesting article today at the New York Times, detailing an interview with Nathan Myhrvold at Intellectual Ventures

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.

One Response

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  1. Gena777 said, on March 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    So-called patent trolls have a kind of “virtual” business model that seems more contemporary than the traditional “brick-and-mortar” R&D mentality. More importantly, it’s a business model that works — evidence by their oft-enormous profits. Additionally, they can be quite helpful to independent inventors whose intellectual property has been exploited by large corporations. By expanding recently into R&D, Intellectual Ventures appears to be making an effort to strike a more palatable balance between innovation and pure profit.


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