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Patent Firm Woos Inventors 43

An anonymous reader writes "C|Net has an article up discussing a new way to win the patent race; hook up with the inventors." From the article: "'They are more concept type of patents. It is a very blue sky kind of thing,' Langer said of the patents that Intellectual Ventures is trying to develop. By contrast, the type of patents that Langer continues to file on his own are typically based on several years of lab research and targeted at very specific ideas, he said. Other researchers working with the firm include Eric Leuthardt, a neurosurgeon with St. Louis' Washington University, and Muriel Ishikawa, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "
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Patent Firm Woos Inventors

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  • This has been happening for a long time.

    Personally I see it as a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Some one should patent a website targeting the nerd community that informs them about current news and allows for comments using a moderation system.
    Its kind of like /. but it will feature articles that are actually NEWS
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why doesn't he just search the Internet for ideas to patent, or look what's being patented in other countries and copy that? That's what most of these trolls do.

    Otherwise it makes more sense for a Venture Capital firm that actually wants to make something to consider Trade Secrets as a better (worldwide) way to protect their invention. Especially where disclosing the products doesn't disclose the secrets (software/server side/ internal business processes/ etc.).

    • 1.) Look for ideas that should work, but you're not smart enough to figure out on your own
      2.) Patent said ideas
      3.) Sit around and wait for someone else to come up with the idea or whisper it in the ear of someone smart and ambitious
      4.) ??? (that is to say, sue the crap out of them) 5.) Profit!

      I admit I'm not real up on the details, but that was pretty much my first impression of the lawsuit against Research in Motion for violating "a method to deliver email to a handheld device wirelessly."
  • Scam Site (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 )
    What the hell is this doing on Slashdot? What next, Slashvertising for Russian kiddy porn makers?
  • 'It is a very blue sky kind of thing,' Langer said.

    And thats how, my child, the blue sky was patented.
  • So basically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nonlnear ( 893672 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:29PM (#15176236)
    Intellectual Ventures is a kinder gentler patent troll? Yes, I did RTFA. It's just a puff piece that drops the words "new" and "controversial" to snag the uninformed reader. From the second paragraph:

    In the past year or so, Intellectual Ventures has emerged as one of the more controversial companies in the tech industry. The company is filing patents, but also buying patents from defunct companies, independent inventors and others.

    One telling excerpt reveals the truth:

    The company is filing about 300 patent applications a year, but so far has only been granted one patent. Typically, the company will not seek royalties until the patent is granted. Lawsuits have also not been filed. Some deals may be announced in a few months.

    So they haven't started shooting the lawsuit shotgun because they don't have enough ammo yet. And yes, I did read the part about how they work with some big names actively developing their ideas. But these are people who would be inventing anyways. This company is just a convenient way of outsourcing the legalese.

    • I agree its ridiculous that the article makes it seem that Intellectual Ventures is some sort of saint because "the company will not seek royalties until the patent is granted."

      The author is clearly a bumbling idiot who didn't even bother to research the basics of patent law, as a patent application does not provide its owner with any enforceable rights, so patent applications are never licensed (licensing a patent application doesn't provide a licensee with any rights - there is no such thing as infringeme
  • what to do? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asadodetira ( 664509 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:30PM (#15176246) Homepage
    Let's supose you have an interesting idea but don't have the time or resources to file a patent, develop a prototype or put them into practice. What should you do? * Forget about it? * Disclose it into the public domain and not get a penny? * Are there easy ways to get the idea to interested developers in such a way that you would get at least some small royalties if the patent is sucessful? Also there are a lot of scams for would-be inventors out there.
    • i keep my ideas and inventions to myself, let the world do without them...
    • Re:what to do? (Score:2, Insightful)

      Let's supose you have an interesting idea but don't have the time or resources to file a patent, develop a prototype or put them into practice. What should you do?

      I'm sorry - are you actually proposing to patent ideas? Let's see - I've got an idea for a foo widget that I think will solve hunger, bring world peace and slay cancer. It works as follows:

      1) Build foo.
      2) Hunger is solved, world peace is here and cancer is no more.

      Should I actually get a patent on this? Can I then sue everybody who builds a

      • I think that was well-stated. Patents have effectively become a vehicle for speculation based on the sweat of others' brows. It should be illegal.
      • I think there might be people with great imagination which can actually contribute to the solution of a problem, but they might not necesarily be able to do all the steps for the implementation themselves. Should they be labeled lazy, daydreamers and dismissed from the technology process. Could their ideas somehow be used?
        • Yes, their ideas could be used. Have them hook up with people who know what they're doing. Have them work in a team. Once the product is ready, finished and proven to work, the dreamers can receive their share of any product-related royalties. I suspect though that the people who actually did the heavy lifting (like actually getting the idea to work) would balk at an even split.
      • Ok. Point.
        But tell me in case where the idea is there but the capital is not there?
        Not all ideas are 10K ideas.
        Say, it is much more, and the person cannot afford it.

        Or that, the person is not a risk-taker, who would be risking big if he
        goes ahead with his ideas (ex - his complete investment goes up in the same) ..

        Even going for a basic patent costs anywhere upwards of $3K. Leave international, that is gonna kill you.
        Would you risk that? Many cannot, with the background they are from.
        • Re:what to do? (Score:3, Insightful)

          True. In which case they can hook up with people who have money and then they work on putting a product out. But no product, no patent. And if they are worried about their ideas being stolen by the people with money, tough beans. No product, no patent.

          And if they're not a risk taker, even more tough beans. Part of the idea behind a patent is that it rewards risk taking. If you don't take the risk to lose it all, you don't get to enjoy the benefits of a monopoly when you succeed.

          Somehow, I get the impression
          • I agree quite a bit. Esp. the profiteering and entitlement concept.

            But isnt the concept of patent 'fostering innovation' ?
            Wasnt the basic idea behind the patent to 'disallow rich from screwing poor (when they try to bring up an idea)'?

            By making the patent costs this high, arent they shooting themselves on their foot?
            Ok, they want to kill off absolute dumb ideas or just *dreams*
            For that this is not the way.

            A patent costs quite a bit. Big money companies can easily cough up that money.
            What about the average i
            • Good points. I'd love to see the costs of filing a patent coming down. Unfortunately, that's unlikely, considering that proper patent examination is an expensive process in and of itself. You either pay for it when you file, or you for it through taxes. Either way, large companies are ahead of the small garage inventor.

              Wasnt the basic idea behind the patent to 'disallow rich from screwing poor (when they try to bring up an idea)'?

              Not the way I see it - or the way it was originally framed in the constit

    • Yes. Why is it that you must make a fortune or creat a monopoly surrounding your "great" idea. Why not just publish it on the web and let people copy it? Do it anonymously if you're afraid of getting sued.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    FTFA: Lawyers and executives that were asked by CNET to comment on the company have largely asserted that Intellectual Ventures would likely generate its revenue from the legal system, but also admitted they didn't have direct or exact insight into the business plan. (These sources have also requested anonymity.)

    Read VERY CAREFULLY and get LEGAL ADVICE before signing anything with these folks. Ask around for a lawyer that SPECIALISES in patents.

    Here in Atlanta, there's a magazine issue (Atlanta -

  • 1: File a patent for "Something that does something"
    2: Wait for the inattentive, overworked bastards at the PTO to award it to you.
    3: Sue everyone in existence because everything in the universe falls under your patent.
    4: Hope someone actually takes you seriously in court.
    5: PROFIT!
  • Why stop there? (Score:3, Informative)

    by USSJoin ( 896766 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:51PM (#15176425) Homepage
    I mean, why stop with just the inventors? If you truly want to get rich and be happy, I suggest you hook up with as many people as possible.
  • who owns the patent on stupidity ?
  • "Although lawsuits may result, the company primarily exists to devise inventions that can generate new markets." -we don't plan to sue anyone, but if it comes up...PROFIT!
  • by cheesedog ( 603990 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:53PM (#15177003)
    Myhrvold continues to maintain that his massive patent holding firm is all about hiring inventors and doing brand new stuff. Yet their own history is not on their side. With 3000 patents in their portfolio already, the young age of the firm, and normal patent pendancy of about 3 years, the only way they could have built this portfolio is by purchasing patents from dead companies or other patent trolls and paper inventors. Myhrvold is continually disengenuous [] about what they do, and the evidence is not in their favor (they almost spent $15 million on the XML patent portfolio [] before Novell got it and released it to the commons).

    My verdict: Troll to the Xth Degree!

  • While Intellectual Venture isn't playing its cards out yet, there are rumblings that even insiders at the company aren't quite sure yet whether the best path for what they're developing will be through new companies (as start ups) or in selling their portfolios (e.g. Ocean Tomo's recent auction).

    It's an interesting challenge really, companies make lots of money from their engineers/technical staffs while those same companies are 'globalizing' their staffs thus releasing the workers from any ties back to t

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!