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Does Recent Goodwill Undo Years of Patent Trolling For Intellectual Ventures?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the fifty-shades-of dept.

Patents 90

CowboyNeal writes "Controversial patent-holding company Intellectual Ventures has been covered on Slashdot before, but a recent CNET article takes a look inside the company, at how they work, and what they have planned for the future. Read below to find out if they are merely a patent-troll, or if their shrewd tactics belie a more noble master plan?"

Intellectual Ventures was first founded in 2000, and since then has acquired an amazing portfolio of patents and "intellectual assets." Even the most conservative of estimates, indicate over 30,000 purchased patents and applications, and over 2000 inventions developed in-house. It's a rather staggering amount of intellectual property for a company that itself does not produce any products.

In the process of collecting the aforementioned patents and inventions, Intellectual Ventures has made itself into a grim spectre haunting the tech industry, garnering it's share of bad press over the years, including a segment on This American Life on NPR, which goes so far as to compare Intellectual Ventures to the mafia, engaging in an IP protection racket. CNET describes the company as having a split personality, in which one part resembles a think tank, where people both create and refine new ideas to solve problems large and small, another part is an "altruistic do-gooder," while the final part is the patent-troll side they've been showing us previously.

During the tour of the company, devices are shown off that include everything from a laser-wielding bug zapper to a microscope for early malaria detection. Intellectual Ventures purports to represent the inventors behind these devices and more, while preparing to spin them off into new companies. One such earlier device, a new nuclear reactor, made headlines again recently as Bill Gates has begun investing in it. A second company has also launched recently. Kymeta, which is also funded in part by Gates, aims to improve wireless broadband access using better satellite connections.

While the inventions that are showcased have a serious cool factor about them, there's still the underlying notion that the invention side of the business is funded by their patent-trolling activities. While no one can really fault advances in fighting malaria or polio, for every new idea they have come up with, there are hundreds of shell companies, such as the infamous Lodsys, who do little but stifle innovation in the industry.

Because Intellectual Ventures and its shell companies have no actual products of their own, they're well-suited to the rigors of patent litigation. Most smaller companies aren't designed or prepared for a patent war. When a company is sued for violating one of Intellectual Ventures' patents, that company now has to divert resources away from making its products, and focus on defending its right to make those products. Just the discovery phase of a lawsuit can bring normal work to a halt, or at the least greatly impede forward progress. Since a company like Intellectual Ventures or one of its shell corporations, is prepared for the suit from the beginning, and has nothing to halt production on, they're much better poised to handle the ongoing work of a court case, and begin the case with a distinct advantage.

So after twelve years, 30,000 pieces of various forms of intellectual property, 1300 patent-holding shell corporations, and a network of 3000 inventors, only two companies have been spun off from Intellectual Ventures. That seems like a rather high price to pay, and a recent Forbes story seems to agree. That doesn't even take into account the damage that has been to industry as a result of the numerous patent cases.

In a recent response to company criticism, Intellectual Ventures has been advertising for a newly-created position, the vice president of Global Good. It seems to me that before hiring another suit, they could easily pull from their pool of around 3000 inventors, and have a few dozen or so just say what their potential products are, and how Intellectual Ventures has helped them on the road to market. This wouldn't exonerate Intellectual Ventures from their patent trolling by any means, but it would be a first step in the right direction. CNET wasn't able to talk to any inventors at length during their tour. Most of the images of inside Intellectual Ventures are of empty rooms, where employees either weren't currently working, or were required to be removed entirely. This renders it awfully hard to put a human face on any possible good that may be going on inside Intellectual Ventures. Reading through past Intellectual Ventures press releases doesn't produce any either. What it does provide, however, is a long list of companies that have been forced to partner with or license rights from Intellectual Ventures. Despite any good intentions they may assert, their track record speaks otherwise. Even if you apply the adage that one has to break a few eggs to make an omelet, they've broken tens of thousands of eggs, and made only a few omelets.

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No (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41112295)

Actions speak louder than words.

Betteridge's Law of Headlines [Re: No] (0, Offtopic)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 2 years ago | (#41112569)

Betteridge's Law of Headlines [] speaks for itself.

Can we stop posting Betteridge's Law everywhere? (4, Funny)

Tr3vin (1220548) | about 2 years ago | (#41112629)

Yes. Ha! I just broke it, too!

Re:Can we stop posting Betteridge's Law everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41116687)

No. You didn't.

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines [Re: No] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113159)

Headline: "Experts Discuss Important Question: Why is Betteridge's Law Wrong?"
Answer: "No"

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines [Re: No] (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41119165)

It only applies to questions that can be answered with yes or no.

Re:No (3, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#41112631)

Exactly. In fact, there's even a law which says so. Betteridge's Law of Headlines [] states that any headline which asks a question can be answered with "no". The headline of TFS provides a perfect example.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113171)

Oh, do go and get fucked together with other idiots trotting out this wiki link in every article.

Betteridge's law was meant for headlines that show uncertainity in sources and conclusions by question marks, like "Average /. poster IQ dropped even further?" or "Car analogies to be banned on Slashdot?".

It doesn't apply to questions presented and discussed in the articles. What the hell, would IV suddenly become better if the headline asked "Are they really as bad as everyone paints them?"

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113815)

Headline: would IV suddenly become better if the headline asked "Are they really as bad as everyone paints them?"


two words (1)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#41113193)

Short leash. (In case of emergency, brandish at Ruprecht the genital cuff.)

Goodwill forgives? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#41112309)

Then that must be how prisoners get out of jail... o.O

Nathan Myhrvold? (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41112323)

Don't doubt the depths of the evil here. The kind that moralises about the good it does.

Re:Nathan Myhrvold? (1)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | about 2 years ago | (#41112961)

While some may equate the two, my view is not that he is evil- he is greedy.

Re:Nathan Myhrvold? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113131)


Re:Nathan Myhrvold? (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41113135)

Yes, but you repeat yourself. :-)

He lies in SO MANY ways through this one, seemingly simple, statement in the article, alone:

"The set of incentives that go around patents, that's part of how the system works. Inventors should get rich. We should have more inventors. It's good for everybody,"

Right. What a Satan, disguised in human form. Myhrvold's out there - using his billion-dollar leverage to ensure the Philo Farnsworths and Nicola Teslas of our time get the just and proportional, individual rewards - commensurate with their foundational contributions.


The "inventors" that he ensures riches for are other large corporations. The "owners" of intellectual "property". He's like a loan shark, claiming that "working stiffs deserve an equal chance a getting a little credit".

If there's a heart of darkness inside of Microsoft, Myhrvold is one of the Cabal of three or four, who made it so.

Re:Nathan Myhrvold? (4, Interesting)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | about 2 years ago | (#41113305)

I totally agree. If he was all about making sure that the disenfranchised inventors like Tesla don't get bullied by the Edison's of the world, then why the hell is he one of the Edison's? Why is he making money off of the lawsuits his company wages against people? I don't see him any different than the RIAA in suing people so that they can "pay" their artists. If it was all about the inventors/artists then more of the litigation & licensing money would go towards the inventors/artists and these leach companies would die of their own altruism.

Re:Nathan Myhrvold? (3, Interesting)

Peristaltic (650487) | about 2 years ago | (#41115155)

Of note is how Myhrvold has applied his substantial intellect to rationalizing his behavior- a pity such superb intelligence exists side-by-side with such sub-par ethics.

“There were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode through which he could realize his conception of the beautiful.”

Oscar Wilde

Re:Nathan Myhrvold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41119289)

As an outside inventor who has sold several dozen ideas to IV, and worked with IV's attorneys to file patents on them, I'd like to note a few things:
--I would not have had the money or the time to patent more than one or two of these on my own, let alone find potential licensees, investors etc. If I was very smart and/or very lucky, that would have been enough--but you cannot predict ahead of time what will be valuable. Certainly IV cannot, they are counting on a portfolio strategy.
--It takes a good deal of effort to write up and submit proposals to IV for consideration, and the reject rate is high. There are a small handful of inventors with high volume that get acceptances into double digit percentage. I'm right at about 10%, probably puts me in the top 15 or 20% of inventors with my volume.
--IV is not in the business of making inventors rich. IV pays its employees decently, and offers very generous performance based bonuses. Someone inside can comment on whether that system is gamed and by how much. External inventors, not so much. Outside of that small handful of inventors with the highest accept rates, I would say the average high volume inventor is making maybe $100 per hour. Not so bad if you consider that it is creative work, with no boss but yourself. But do not think you will get rich unless you are extraordinarily efficient, creative, and lucky at interpreting what IV wants.
--External inventors are offered an up front payment and a royalty percentage. Various factors weigh into that. I do not know anyone who has made significant money off of that yet. Thus, not factored into the $100/hr number.
--I have never met Myhrvold. I've heard him speak, seems kinda annoying to me but certainly no more than your average nerd. Evil, hardly. And, you know, there is no guarantee their business model will be successful long term.
--I do not write software inventions. The most successful inventors I am aware of focus on that. I am more into mechanical and materials inventions, which is a much tougher beat.

Not good enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112329)

Even if they end up doing good the ends do not justify the means.

Re:Not good enough (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#41133535)

i'm ambivalent about the whole thing.

their model is amoral (in the sense of there's no moral dimension at all - good or bad). it merely requires a good or evil intention to make IV good or evil.

they appear to be regular venture capitalists who would like the IP as a condition of funding. this is actually good for small inventors who would otherwise not be able to (easily) realise their inventions, certainly not before someone better funded could develop them first.

i'm all for stifling innovation where "innovation" = "another stupid goddamn phone i don't want, round corners or no round corners".

it seems if there's an innovation out there that has the potential to become a disruptive, essential new technology, IV is going to be right on it. fair enough i suppose - they aim to get very rich, and so long as R&D is being done i say let them.

but the protection racket thing is rather disturbing. i suppose it's all a matter of who they shake down. some "innovations" in silicon valley are so frivolous that they almost deserve a shakedown...

No (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#41112345)

They are scum and need to pay for their crimes. They possibly caused immensely more economic damage.

Re:No (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112447)

As is internet tradition, they need to irredeemably pay for their crimes, as well as all their children, their children's children, and their grandchildren's children. Just to be safe, the rest of their families must suffer, too, INCLUDING in-laws. And since they may have talked to others at some points in their lives (thus potentially spreading their wretched impurities), we'll also need to exterminate anyone they've ever communicated with, starting with this CNET unbeliever who did willingly choose to poison his family by speaking with the heretic.

Nevar forgive, nevar forget! That's how we advance society here on the internet. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go. There's a thread on Reddit where we're discussing how backwards Middle East terrorists are. Can you believe those people are at war with each other because of things their great-grandchildren did? Such primitive savages! I'm so glad we're beyond that here on the internet.

Re:No (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41112987)

By your strategy, we should also exterminate you for telling us about it, thus proving you have a connection down the chain with the people who actually did it, right?

Re:No (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41112663)

This is something like a mass murder saying "I only kill the occasional person now, stop hating me."

Re:No (2)

Jonner (189691) | about 2 years ago | (#41118185)

They are scum and need to pay for their crimes. They possibly caused immensely more economic damage.

Whether they are personally scum or not, their success is an example of how sick the patent system has become. In general, business that makes huge profits while doing very little of use to anyone else is a symptom of a bigger problem.

Possibly. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112365)

If they actually do something useful and it actually helps others, yes.
Until then, they are a worthless abuser of the patent system by having nothing to show for any of said patents.

I can think of about a hundred things that can help millions of lives right now and could go over to some poor country to help. (even without multiple millions in revenue)
But groups like these hold people like us back because we'd end up having OUR lives ruined because they want to be the only ones who can help anybody.
If you aren't with them, you are a personal insult to their company and they HAVE done everything to destroy those who oppose them.

Reminds me of Edison. Both are dicks and will/did hurt untold millions directly and indirectly at the expense of research.

A Few More Notes (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41112371)

You forgot to mention that two of the big founders of IV are Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung of Microsoft. So yeah when Bill Gates is trying to hook them up with a huge licensing deal or when Gates is pumping money into them, it's a sort of Old Boys network thing going on there. I'm certain that you will find the "two companies" that are spun off as being completely in bed with Microsoft.

So the other thing I'd like to bring up is the This American Life question of IV as to who they've actually helped. And they kept saying the same case: Chris Crawford. But of course, they couldn't get a hold of Crawford, they found out that IV no longer managed it and, in fact, Crawford is in litigation with IV. So basically the one thing that they offered as proof of their purpose was bunk. And then, of course, they stopped talking to This American Life.

Even if you apply the adage that one has to break a few eggs to make an omelet, they've broken tens of thousands of eggs, and made only a few omelets.

Yeah, Microsoft omelets. It's a self-serving shell company that sues the shit out of everyone and forces others into agreements or litigation. They can't even offer up one person that will sing their praises of helping them successfully manage their IP portfolio. And that, good friend, is why they're compared to the mafia.

A "step in the right direction"? You'll excuse my skepticism until I see some results for malaria, polio, and HIV ... even if they can put a dent in those problems while lining their own pockets I'd be impressed. Sadly, the simpler explanation is that they have a very large portfolio and some of these tackle very serious diseases and by holding them up they can justify their lawsuits and patent trolling that is driving the industry backwards!

Re:A Few More Notes (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41112755)

It's just the same modius operandi that Bill Gates has used, that Andrew Carnegie and other "robber barons" have used for centuries - make shitloads of money by various immoral / unethical / illegal means and then use 'philanthropy' to gain admission to heaven or at least public acceptance of their previous behaviors. This isn't new, it's not helpful to the world at large and society would be better off if it prevented the immoral / unethical and / or illegal behaviors in the first place.

Re:A Few More Notes (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41113239)

...and then use 'philanthropy' to gain admission to heaven or at least public acceptance of their previous behaviors.

And/or some additional options: invest in industries that profit from exploiting people and natural resources (Africa comes to mind) and then apply "philanthropy" to in a fashion favorable to your (or your silent partners') interests...

Re:A Few More Notes (1)

Pathoth (2637433) | about 2 years ago | (#41117975)

also, the kind of philanthropy and charity they usually indulge in wouldn't "get them into heaven" anyways. microsoft office donations to schools was designed to lock kids into using their software from an early age. large scale donations to universities and such are done on the condition that the construction company they own does the work. all such folks generally feed the poor, but keep them reliant on handouts instead of empowering them. and all of the mentioned tend to give them tax credits so its not like they really lose money on doing this stuff. I'm sure you all could find a lot more if you really want to start digging.

Re:A Few More Notes (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#41127519)

It's just the same modius operandi that Bill Gates has used, that Andrew Carnegie and other "robber barons" have used for centuries - make shitloads of money by various immoral / unethical / illegal means and then use 'philanthropy' to gain admission to heaven or at least public acceptance of their previous behaviors.

Al Capone used it too.

Re:A Few More Notes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41135293)

As did Pablo Escobar

Re:A Few More Notes (1)

thoughtlover (83833) | about 2 years ago | (#41140845)

It's just the same modius operandi that Bill Gates has used, that Andrew Carnegie and other "robber barons" have used for centuries - make shitloads of money by various immoral / unethical / illegal means and then use 'philanthropy' to gain admission to heaven or at least public acceptance of their previous behaviors. This isn't new, it's not helpful to the world at large and society would be better off if it prevented the immoral / unethical and / or illegal behaviors in the first place.

Foundations aren't just for changing public perception of past misdeeds. They're a massive tax-shelter. Why didn't the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation want to fund Dean Kaman's Slingshot [] ? They'd be known for solving one of the greatest problems that developing countries face; access to clean drinking water.

Re:A Few More Notes (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 2 years ago | (#41118027)

All those people who like to say, "Microsoft's not so evil anymore. The 80s and 90s are over," are the ones who've never heard of SCO or IV. The ones who have no idea what happened to Nokia or why their .doc files now have an 'x' on the end of them. People who assume that anything with the word 'charity' attached to it is unquestionably good. I'd really like to know how Gates pumping money into his crony's business that aids his own company leverage its monopoly is charity.

Bill Gates is like Darth Sidious: When he commits his most heinous acts of evil people applaud him for trying to save the world. Also, like Sidious, it's completely unclear whether he believes his own bullshit or not.

can someone tell me... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41112383)

Was Intellectual Ventures in the book "Freakanomics"?

I don't have access to that book anymore but I seem to remember that a very IV type company was in that book because of their anti-global warming idea.

I Think It Was Superfreakonomics (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41112427)

Was Intellectual Ventures in the book "Freakanomics"?

I don't have access to that book anymore but I seem to remember that a very IV type company was in that book because of their anti-global warming idea.

Uh I think it was Superfreakonomics and they even brag about it [] . I would like to clarify that it's not 'anti-global warming idea' so much as a patent on how to engineer the temperature by pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to cool the planet.

Re:I Think It Was Superfreakonomics (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41112597)

But weren't they also the authors of the idea to build huge floating devices to use for ocean cooling?

Maybe I'm getting the ideas mixed up and one of the ideas was an anti-hurricane device.

Re:I Think It Was Superfreakonomics (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | about 2 years ago | (#41115371)

Yep, this cooling the ocean thing is an anti-hurricane device.

No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112409)

Questions in headlines are easy questions.

Re:No (-1, Redundant)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41112497)

See also: Betteridge's Law of Headlines [] .

Re:No (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41117501)

I'm certain this will get moderated as off-topic, but it needs to be said, because this particular moderation error seems to happen far too often here on Slashdot.

Dear mods,

In a threaded discussion forum such as Slashdot, it is important to look at the posting times when determining what is or is not redundant, not the position of the post in the discussion. Slashdot isn't like VBulletin or other "flat" bulletin boards; posts that are farther down were not necessarily posted after posts that appear higher up.

My post, which you moderated as "redundant", was in fact posted more than ten minutes prior to the other post on the subject (which folks moderated up). In fact, THAT post was actually redundant. Mine was not. It is unfair to punish my karma by calling my post redundant when it was, in fact, the first post on the subject merely because someone else made a LATER post that happened to be higher in the hierarchy.

Helpful tip: You can undo unfair moderation by posting in the thread (even anonymously) while logged in.

This helpful public service announcement was brought to you by Slashcode. Slashcode: confusing moderators for fifteen years.

Mask of Sanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112471)

Just because a serial killer can smile even while hacking people up, doesn't mean he/she's not a murderer.

The ends don't justify the means (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 2 years ago | (#41112473)

I don't care if they stand in the heavenly courts and fart choir music, the ends don't justify extortion to fund their business model.

Re:The ends don't justify the means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112577)

Having a past history of selling weapons doesn't justify the praise given to Tony Stark now that he's become Iron Man!

Re:The ends don't justify the means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112687)

Bad analogy much?

Re:The ends don't justify the means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112785)

Explain how, then.

Re:The ends don't justify the means (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#41112971)

Intellectual Ventures has continued their work as a patent troll. Tony Stark stopped making weapons before he became Iron Man.

Re:The ends don't justify the means (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41113021)

That only works because he has shunned his past sins.

IV, however, continues to patent troll.

I'm sorry, but if you've been lying with fleas don't expect me to invite you into my kennel until you've been dipped.

Re:The ends don't justify the means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41128551)

Thank you. The ends do not justify the means, I agree.

Invoking Godwin here, the Nazis just wanted to ensure a good life for Germans.

Evidence of Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112479)

Have they gotten anything into production? Proof is in the pudding. Either they have, or it's all bullshit.

Re:Evidence of Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112611)

You don't understand! They are inventing these things so that other people can come and create them and sell them, and all they ask is 110% of your profit!

Besides, they did the hard work of figuring out how to zap mosquitoes with lasers. All you have to do is figure out how to do it without blinding people or pets.

Re:Evidence of Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41114799)

Actually ... []

Classic monopoly guilt (5, Interesting)

mspohr (589790) | about 2 years ago | (#41112481)

They are a classic monopolist. They use government regulations (patents) to gain monopoly control and extort payments from everyone else. In order to assuage their guilt, they develop some "good causes". Of course, the good causes they choose are idiosyncratic and based on their own value system and not necessarily something that society would have done with the money had they been allowed to keep it in the first place.

Andrew Carnegie is an earlier example of this. He was a ruthless businessman who built a steel monopoly and benefited greatly from government regulations (which he tailored to his needs) and used unsavory methods to put his competitors out of business. He also ruthlessly exploited his workers (see: Homestead strike). Later in life he felt Christian guilt and gave away his money (I guess he figured out he couldn't take it with him) to libraries, schools, churches (he was very big into church organs).

I personally think it is better to have society as a whole determine what to do with resources rather than have government empower individuals to amass great wealth and have those individuals spend it on their pet projects.

Re:Classic monopoly guilt (2)

DriveDog (822962) | about 2 years ago | (#41112815)

Pretty much what I think of whenever I hear on public radio "...what Andrew Carnegie described as real and permanent good."

There was a local politician in my area who is now spoken of favorably by almost everyone. In fact, during his reign as mayor, he seemed OK until there was an opportunity to grab land about to be acquired by the city from the railroad for his own business, something he likely could not have pulled off had he not been mayor or on the city council. When he died, the local newspaper included a summary of that unethical act in the story about his public life. People screamed bloody murder, that the paper would do such a thing. I still don't understand why people would object to an honest assessment. Especially when I bike the rail-trail that bends around the ugly rear of that business, too close to the smelly garbage. Should the papers have only said that John Gotti was a spiffy dresser when he died?

I don't think public radio and TV should allow anything more than identification of who sponsored things. No BS corporate or personal statements, no nothing but name and possibly location.

Re:Classic monopoly guilt (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41113327)

Should the papers have only said that John Gotti was a spiffy dresser when he died?

They might have mentioned how Gotti chainsawed to death the guy that was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Gotti's son rode his bike out in front of the guy's car...

Re:Classic monopoly guilt (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41113723)

Actually he ordered Charles Carneglia to kidnap him and boil him in acid.

Re:Classic monopoly guilt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113037)

I personally think it is better to have society as a whole determine what to do with resources rather than have government empower individuals to amass great wealth and have those individuals spend it on their pet projects.

In a perfect world, that's definitely good. In the real world, having 'society as a whole determine what to do with resources' inevitably amounts to empowered individuals inducing the government to take others money and spend it on their pet projects.

Ultimately, it seems that governments more often than not fail to effectively read and implement society's priorities. (Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I'm not sure if that's really fixable. Organizations and parties tend to favor continued existence over idealistic purity.) Might as well cut out the middleman and try to get a statistical distribution of pet projects that covers all your bases.

Re:Classic monopoly guilt (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 2 years ago | (#41119125)

>church organs

So he was an organ donor?

Anyone who disagrees with me MUST BE EVIL. (0)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41112485)

An other case of anyone who disagrees with your view point must be evil.

Companies/People/Real Life. Isn't cut dry Good and Evil, we all do things that other will not like. Some things that we do and think as Good, is considered as Evil by someone else. Sometimes things we feel bad about doing, really isn't a big deal.

Sometimes people change, they admit they were wrong, and change their actions, most of the time they will stubbornly stick by their views no matter what is actually the evidence is. Sometimes people will change their minds on a whim based on what some other charasmatic person says.

There was a time where the majority of Slashdot posts was praising Cloud Computing, then RMS made a rant about it, over night the majority changed their mind. Or the Republicans who initially sported a national health plan much like the Affordable care Act (Obomacare), but because it was enacted by the democratic party they all reject it.

Sometime people change their actions not because they believe in it, they just know they can't get away with it.

My motto is if the company is doing something good now, we should support their good deeds and reinforce good actions. The alternative is them making the realization well there isn't anything I can do to get people to like me, so I will just do what I did before where I just made a ton of money.

Re:Anyone who disagrees with me MUST BE EVIL. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112613)

What? This isn't about "Anyone who disagrees with me MUST BE EVIL." This is about a company who is causing real damage in the world with lawsuits over silly patents. And as far as we can tell, they will continue to cause real damage in the world. Hiring a "Vice President of Global Good" doesn't mean you are actually good, it means you are worried about PR.

Re:Anyone who disagrees with me MUST BE EVIL. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41114177)

This is a company that eats babies....

Oh wait, sorry, it has a bunch of patents of useless crap, and sues people who reinvent the useless crap, or has them pay money to sell the useless crap.

Re:Anyone who disagrees with me MUST BE EVIL. (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 2 years ago | (#41112649)

Hey wait... are you speaking of being rational? Of not burning a company to the ground just cause some talking head told me they were the evil incarnate? Now who's being crazy. Everyone knows that if they were the same color shirt as you they are good and if they don't then you should burn them at the stake.

Re:Anyone who disagrees with me MUST BE EVIL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113199)


Re:Anyone who disagrees with me MUST BE EVIL. (3, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#41112847)

IV is a company set up to exploit the horribly broken patent system to the max. They made their fortune not by merit of effort, but by gaming the system, causing untold economic damage in the process. So yes, they suck big time. And now they are changing their tune? That's a bit like praising a hardened crime boss for donating some of his ill gotten gains to the NY Philharmonic. A nice gesture, but in both cases it hardly means they are turning a new leaf.

In the end, getting the patent system reformed is a lot better than hating IV. Fat chance of that happening, though.

Slashdot's quote of the moment had it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112529)

"Pardon me while I laugh."

Just because a troll does something nice once in awhile doesn't mean they'll be nice all the time.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112567)

What is with all these stupid questions?

Goodwill doesn't erase anything. The fact of the matter is, in the future, they are going to continue suing people for silly software patents. The only way to 'erase' the past is if they will change, and stop suing people for silly patents.

Anything less is like going back to an abusive boyfriend because he gives you flowers inbetween being abusive.

Patent Troll (5, Insightful)

introp (980163) | about 2 years ago | (#41112715)

They're still what they were designed to be. They're just investing in P.R. now. Next.

Oops (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112727)


My boss always told me: (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41112739)

You're only as good as you're last screw up.

This is only asking the girl if she forgives her boyfriend for cheating, or worse.

Re:My boss always told me: (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41112759)

Do'h! Stupid language Goddammit! We need a more generic your!

IV should allow GPL use of its patents (3, Interesting)

Khopesh (112447) | about 2 years ago | (#41112741)

Lots of companies struggle quite a bit to get proper branding and good press. It's really really hard, and often difficult for executives to understand the investment effort it requires. This leaves us in a pickle with Intellectual Ventures, because it's hard to even understand whether they are the "good guys" they purport to being.

Maybe it would make sense for them to state some policies on what they will and will not pursue when it comes to their IP enforcement team (trolls). If they really want to push for innovation, they could make a statement like that they will never pursue use of their patented mechanisms in GPL-compatible software.

I mention the GPL rather than OSI-approved because the GPL's clauses prevent closed-source derivatives, which ensures profitability of salable goods derived from such things. This model was quite successful (read: profitable) for Qt (before Nokia relicensed it LGPL).

Permitting and encouraging Free Software stimulates innovation. It would likely also lead to derivative patents, which (assuming they share them appropriately) would be mutually beneficial to the F/OSS developer and to Intellectual Ventures.

Of course, this is assuming software patents aren't stricken down, which would be better for everybody except Intellectual Ventures.

Re:IV should allow GPL use of its patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41114239)

They would never ever do this. This is just public relations bullshit.

Earn it (1)

Imagix (695350) | about 2 years ago | (#41112799)

To answer the question. No. You want goodwill? _Undo_ the damage that was done first. Release the patent war chest to the public domain. Stop the corporate shell game. Behave well for the next 5 or 10 years. Then we can perhaps change our opinion.

Intellectual Vultures (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41112823)

What a fitting name!

Jonathan Schwartz??? (0)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about 2 years ago | (#41113011)

Yea... That's a credible witness...

Vice President of Global Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41113153)

The hypocrisy here is staggering. You have ruthlessly gamed the patent system to the detriment of everybody, now you want us to congratulate you for "doing good"?

Presumably this is a PR exercise attempting to slow patent reform.

A troll by any other name... (1)

gavron (1300111) | about 2 years ago | (#41113201) still a troll.

If Hitler contributed $5 to the Boy Scouts, is he still not a monster

* Yes I invoke Godwin's law.

Re:A troll by any other name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41116615)

If Hitler contributed $5 to the Boy Scouts, is he still not a monster

Of course he is. Like Hitler, the Boy Scouts persecute gays.

Humans love false dichotomies. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41113479)

Not that Intellectual Ventures deserves it, but the concept of "Forgive and Forget" is ridiculous to me. Such concepts have an evolutionary advantage only if the minds using them can't strategize logically while assessing the full scope of past events. When I'm asked for forgiveness I always say: "There is no need. You can never undo the past, therefore I don't hold grudges." I can't forget, so it would be dishonest to the other or myself were I not to decide my future actions based on the whole of my experience.

Emotion and intuition are great for living life from one small moment to the next -- These are amazing compressed decision engines used best when trust is warranted or time is short. However, It's not necessary to forgive if one takes the time to approach significant matters rationally instead of emotionally.

Goodwill? What about doing good? (1)

RR (64484) | about 2 years ago | (#41113567)

Intellectual Ventures has done harm to a lot of people who are actually making things to benefit the public, and what do they have to show for it? Flashy tech demoes and dubious press releases.

Want goodwill? Why not start by doing something good? You get goodwill when malaria rates are actually impacted by the fancy laser shows, when carbon emissions actually go down because of the nuclear reactors. Not before.

It still wouldn't excuse all the damage caused by the patent trolling. But, hey, the robber barons managed to reverse their reputations with their philanthropy, and Bill Gates now has a legion of supporters who excuse his past sins with his current generosity, so I'm sure Intellectual Ventures can at least appear to be good.

What goodwill (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41113837)

What goodwill would that be? They haven't actually DONE anything yet. They have made press releases that say they have plans to do things that may lead to things that could possibly result in something that's good (or at least not bad). Meanwhile, there's no reason to believe those things wouldn't have already happened if they had gotten out of the way.

Stop Bullshitting People! (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41113917)

The idea that "Intellectual Property" exists is illegal, plain and simple. It needs to be resolved in court (and should have been over 15 years ago), and the only reason it has not been there is because people are making a metric ass load of money suing each other. Courts make money, Law firms make money, and businesses that "win" make money. It's all ILLEGAL!

Stop and think about how backwards, draconian, and medieval the concept is. Ideas are not free and only certain people can have them? Because you think up an idea, you can own the idea and nobody else can implement an idea that they thought up just like yours? Even when technology does not exist, you can own ideas that you pay people to sit and dream up? Really, a patent on something currently impossible? Yes folks, that is the current system.

I'm all for copyright laws, assuming they are permissible to everyone and fairly legislated. 100 year copyrights are not fairly legislated are they? Trademarks sure, those can be for a lifetime assuming again that common sense applies. A logo can be a trademark, a string of text can not be a trademark.

To continue the belabor the point of how fair a "Patent Troll" is, is completely ludicrous. If a judge ever rules that patents can be granted on ideas, they need to be fired from their jobs and judges need to be place on to benches that have knowledge of the words and spirit of the US Constitution, and works for the interests of Society and not a select few (including their own benefit).

Nothing changes if we continue on the same path. The system as it sits stifles innovation and ingenuity and causes harm to everyone. Tell me how the Honeywell vs. Nest law suit and C&D order has helped anyone but Honeywell? This is explicitly against the spirit of the Laws providing Patents.

Re:Stop Bullshitting People! (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 2 years ago | (#41116619)

Intellectual property is actually part of constitutional law, at least in the USA. That's the extreme opposite, by definition, of "illegal". Now, if you want to claim that it's immoral, outdated, invalid, unenforceable, too broad, broken, economically harmful, or should be prohibited on other constitutional grounds, go right ahead. Claiming that something which is established in the highest legal code of the nation is "illegal" just makes you look like an idiot.

Now, I don't know for sure that you're an American citizen, but that's where IV is located and the set of laws they operate under, so your comment is pointless otherwise.

In any case, I disagree with you quite strongly. First of all, you seem to be unaware of the breadth of IP law. For example, trademarks are IP. Just because I "independently" come up with my own logo and product name that looks exactly like the one on your very succesful product line doesn't mean I'm allowed to sell knock-off "duplicates" under that brand. That's enforced by IP law. So are things like trade secrets (if you break an employment contract by selling insider knowledge, IP is the reason the company can sue you - otherwise, they could only fire you).

Furthermore, while I agree that the copyright and patent systems are both out of control an doperating far in excess of how they should, the core of both seems like a good idea to me. Without copyright, it's essentially impossible to make a living doing things like writing books or taking photographs, no matter how good you are, if you can only ever get paid for each work once. It's also both very hard to make a living writing software, and impossible (under the otherwise-current set of laws) to prevent soembody from taking your open-source software and forking it closed-source. Without patents, there's very little value in R unless you manage to make something that can't be reverse engineered or simply duplicated, your competitors will clone it and leave you with the sunk cost. Patents are supposed to allow R&D to provide a return on invesment, and in many cases, they do work.

That they need to be reigned in, I fully agree with. Don't go saying they're univerally and inherently wrong unless you've really thought about what a world without any of the impacts of those laws (as opposed to one without only the negative impacts) would be like... and don't go calling them "illegal" unless you simply want to look like a fool.

Re:Stop Bullshitting People! (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41117335)

Absolutely false! "Intellectual Property" is not part of the Constitutional law. Intellectual property did not exist until Reagon passed the business process patent laws in the 1980s (I'm to lazy to go look for the exact date at the moment).

Patent Law according to the Constitution deal with Physical invention only, and cites all of the criteria required for an invention to become patented. One of the requirements was that a working blue print must be provided, which you may be confusing with "IP" but it's not. A person could not submit a patent with just a blue print, the model had to be functional to receive the patent.

Idea Patents are illegal, and are currently being used illegally. Because you see some way that people benefit financially does not make it magically legal, any more than claiming people make money selling drugs illegally so it should be okay.

Go read the original Laws regarding Patents, especially the text regarding the spirit of a Patent. Patent's can not be used to stifle invention, must be used for the benefit or society, and should never be used to create monopolies. Patent's on "ideas" follow absolutely none of those points, and absolutely do everything that patents are not supposed to do. Most importantly, "Idea" patents by think tanks regarding future technology can not even make the basic criteria for a working invention.

Yes they are a patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41115129)

OK, so they are like "Oh, we're not patent trolls, it's intellectual capital". Yeah, well, guess what, the spammers who insist their spamming is just "bulk commercial e-mail" are spammers. You are patent trolls.

          So, you saw a showcase of inventions while you were there. So, did you find out, was Intellectual Ventures ACTUALLY involved in any way whatsoever in these, or were these nuclear reactor, lasers, etc., ALREADY invented and Intellectual Ventures just found out about them and sued the inventors? (This is my guess!) And, by the way guys at Intellectual Ventures, hiring a head of goody two shoes does not negate your past deeds. If you truly are going to quit being patent trolls and do good, that's fabuluous . But, those of us who know about patent rolls to begin with don't get our news from talking heads, we won't be fooled by you just giving one job position a feel-good name.

we can work something out... (1)

jaden (22302) | about 2 years ago | (#41116529)

I'll agree to stop hating them for 2-4yrs if they produce a consumer version (less than $200) of their laser mosquito killer [] ... every year they don't though my offer decreases in span of hate absolution by six months finally settling at a max of 2yrs. -j

There is some good here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41118229)

At this point in my desperate attempt to explain why I hate the notion of "intellectual property" as much as I do, I can only applaud Intellectual Ventures for their work. Their business model seems to be to "abuse the system" but this is a system I'm sure many of us have little love for.

God speed gentlemen! Fuck it all up and make a fat pile of cash for yourselves and your lawyers as you go. Force those intelligent and dedicated inventors and designers to lose their jobs. Restrict innovation worldwide as much as you possibly can. Do what must logically follow under these circumstances. I don't care about the billions of dollars wasted every year anymore. I just want, once before I die, to be able to say "I TOLD YOU SO" to all the bastards who argue in favour of intellectual property.

The Beneficent Parasite (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 2 years ago | (#41121931)

Buy the public consciousness with a few baubles while continuing to drain away the vitality of the economy. They have learned much from the masters at the B & MGF.
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