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back to article Bloated US patent holder sues 9 tech companies

An Intellectual Property-gathering outfit founded by ex-Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold has thrown a patent infringement sueball at nine tech companies. Intellectual Ventures filed a lawsuit against three semiconductor vendors - Altera Corp, Microsemi Corp and Lattice Semiconductor Corp - in the US District Court of Delaware. …

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So how many inventions did they invent?

And how many patents were bought for a song because they convinced the inventor that it was a good deal?

All software and method patents must die. No ifs, no buts, and no exceptions. It's the only way anybody is going to stand a cat in hell's chance of doing ANYTHING without either paying the danegeld or getting sued into bankruptcy.

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They are all after money

And the lawsuit will fail on its behind. Greedy pigs

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And your not after money?

It seems to be a capitalist society.

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Joke

Sorry in advance

"said the outfit's top litigation counsel Melissa Finocchio"

I wonder what grew when she lied...

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Pirate

A fine match

Melissa Pinocchio working for Intellectual Vultures

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Plus ca change

I thought, just for a laugh, I would actually look at the anti-virus patent. Well, colour me cynical but it seems to an 'ordinary joe' type person that the only difference between this patent and the anti-virus systems I was using back in the mid-90's is, well none really. Uses telephone lines to connect computers together and checks a database to see if a virus update is required or if it should check the data being transferred. If this had been from 1979 I would have been impressed, but 1999?

You really really have to wonder how long before the US patent office gives up with these, do they make even the slightest pretence at checking them or do they leave it to all the big boys keeping an eye on what is being applied for so that the little guys just get stuffed?

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Flame

They have given up

They don't check anymore, they just rubberstamp the application after cashing the registration fees.

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useless patents

I thought it was the courts who decide if prior art trumps the patents nowadays (rather than the patent office).

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WTF?

Shell companies?

What's the point of distributing all this IP through so many shell companies? It has to be more subtle than simply making it not worth countersuing, surely?

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@Shell companies?

You distribute ownership of the patents across all those shells so that if one of the shells gets exploded by a counter-suit, it only takes out ownership of that small block of patents, rather than costing you the whole kit and kaboodle.*

* Yes, yes, I know, a company like this has neither kit nor kaboodle, just lawyers. It's just a phrase, so get over it.

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On the bright side

The rise of Intellectual Ventures may just be what is needed to get this absurd situation sorted out.

While the big players were mainly just cross-licensing and using trivial patents to screw small newcomers, they didn't have much incentive to change things. But with the appearance of a powerful parasite that generates no value and just wants to tax everyone else perhaps the guys with the power to fix the problem will actually get fed up enough to push the lawmakers to sort it out.

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"in some quarters "

"in all quarters" there, fixed that for you. they're just trolls. send 'em back under the bridge.

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Alien

RENT PLEASE!

I am a phys/math boy genius but now I wants my moneyyysss.

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Anonymous Coward

Patent clerks are no Einsteins?

It's rather pathetic to see Bill Gates speaking at TED of Nathan's company and the great feats that they potentially may realise (we know it as vaporware). Nathan's company is presented by Bill as an entity that's going to improve the world by achieving U238 nuclear fission, amongst other things. Those other things apparently involve being a robber baron of the software industry. What's new?

One way to at least refine the software patenting process would be to start suing the patent office instead of having companies fight amongst each other. With enough legal pressure, the patent office would have to reform, hopefully for the better. However, no corporation -which has its own patent portfolio- will ever challenge the patent office on the validity of software patents.

Apparently, only the ACLU has the conviction of suing the patent office, although this concerned patenting genetic software, i.e. genes.

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One problem with that idea.

The USPTO is part of the US Department of Commerce. This means it's an established part of the federal government. And one of the general rules is that you cannot directly sue a sovereign government, since what it says goes (look up "Sovereign Immunity"). Now, the US does allow rare exceptions, but the USPTO does not perform actions that would result in a qualifying lawsuit (it usually has to be deliberate--a case of tort).

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yeah ...

"However, some companies have chosen to ignore our requests for good faith negotiations and discussions."

Rather as a bank might ignore the good faith negotiations of the men with crowbars and balaclavas who are 'requesting' access to the vaults.

Just because one is being blatant in trying to extort money does not mean there is any 'good faith' involved.

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Anonymous Coward

Trolls are essential

They are the only way a little guy can get paid for IP. If you are a startup you don't think the big vendors won;t shake you down, look at what happened to PSI. The only alternative was to sell out to the man,

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change patent laws

The sad thing is that Intellectual Ventures probably hasn't invented anything. The company is probably top heavy with lawyers. The patent laws need to be changed so that someone has to

have a working model of what they are trying to patent before a patent can be granted. The law should be changed so that a group of people who sit down and patent everything they can think of cannot get patents.

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Intellectual Ventures and software patents

It's possible that many of the patent filers did have working models. I take Intellectual Ventures to be one of those companies that goes around buying up as many patents as possible as cheaply as possible and then suing as many people as possible to make a profit (one variety of patent troll).

I agree with some others, software and business method patents need to go entirely. There has never been a software patent that shouldn't have failed the "obvious" test (just because patent reviewers are low-paid clueless types doesn't mean it's not obvious to many people that work in software).

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FAIL

good luck with that

Long live Intellectual Vultures. Nice to see the Baby Boomers greatest contribution to humanity was the patent troll. God what a parasitic generation.

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Grenade

As an Australian

Things like this wouldn't concern me overly much, were it not for the unfortunate fact that the politicians and bureaucrats on both side of the political coin here are very keen to jump at even the slightest hint that the USA might even say "jump".

Therefore, we are signatories to every insane, corporation friendly, individual oppressing treaty that the US ambassador has thrown down on the table.

Fuckwits of the highest order the lot of them.

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800 lb gorilla strategy-bury small entrepreneur/company with huge fees

Without any merit 800lb gorilla's response to licensing letter? Let's bury licensor with$ millions in fees to defend.. seems to me that trolls have a purpose..

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