PublishedMarch 23, 2010

Will IV come clean on its role in patent lawsuits?

We have to tip our caps to Zusha Elinson, who has done more than anyone to expose the inner workings of Nathan Myhrvold’s secretive enterprise, Intellectual Ventures. Elinson previously broke the story of IV handing off patents to an NPE, Picture Frame Innovations. Sure enough, Picture Frame used the patent to bring Kodak to court for patent infringement.

This may reflect IV’s new “catch and release” strategy, where a patent holder acquires a patent, grants itself a license, and then resells the patent – in this case, apparently to a lawsuit-happy NPE. This can all be done while maintaining a record of not getting directly involved in litigation. Meanwhile, according to Elinson, IV gets a stake of whatever proceeds the NPE makes as a result of the licensed patent, including via litigation.

Now comes word that Kodak is calling IV on its bluff. Elinson reports that Kodak is demanding that IV attend a settlement conference along with Picture Frame.

“The sides are also fighting over weather Picture Frame’s relationship with IV should be kept under seal. The briefing outlines some of the deal terms, all of which essentially say that IV has no control over what [famed NPE lawyer Ray] Niro does with the patent it sold him. But it doesn’t answer the big question: what kind of cut does IV get from the lawsuit?”
Originally, the Illinois judge presiding over the case agreed with Kodak’s request, only to change his mind and merely “encourage” IV to be present.
IV claims it has not yet made a decision. We will have to wait and see if Myhrvold and company are ready to acknowledge their role in these lawsuits or if they simply choose to delay the inevitable.
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