By Dennis Crouch
Intellectual Ventures has received billions of dollars in investment & revenue for its patent licensing program. Almost surprisingly, the company has rarely resorted to litigation in order to enforce its rights. Rather, it seems that most would-be defendants are willing to buy a license before litigation. However, Symantec won’t roll over.
Intellectual Ventures I v. Symantec (D.Del. 2013)
In a new lawsuit, Intellectual Ventures (IV) has sued Symantec for infringing three separate patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 5,537,533; 6,598,131; and 6,732,359. In an ongoing lawsuit, IV is also alleging that Symantec infringes its U.S. Patent Nos. 5,987,610; 6,073,142; 6,460,050; and 7,506,155. IV is a master at bundling patents together to cover a particular market area. Here, I looked up the ownership history of all the patents being asserted and they turn out to be a diverse group:
- The ‘533 patent was originally assigned to the Portland-based company MiraLink. When that company went through bankruptcy (restructuring), a shell company known as “So. Pak Pte., LLC” purchased the patent and later transferred it to Intellectual Ventures. I presume that So.Pak was an intellectual ventures shell company.
- The ‘131 patent was originally owned by the now-defunct Ondotek company. When that company closed, intellectual ventures purchased the patent through a shell company known as Oxtapro Tre ME, LLC.
- The ‘359 patent was originally owned by BellSouth who then sold its rights to Dono Tech Services that appears to also be an ongoing intellectual ventures shell company.
- The ‘610 patent was originally owned by Ameritech who then transferred its interests to the University of Texas who then spun-out the IP enforcer “Verve LLC” who then transferred rights to AUCTNYC8 and then to IV. My suspicion is that IV controlled the game by the time that AUCTNYC8 purchased the rights.
- The ‘142 patent was originally owned by the Park City Group who sold the patent to sold the patent rights to the shell company known as Pait Capital Facility who then transferred rights to IV.
- The ‘050 patent was invented by two guys running their own company who then sold their rights to intellectual ventures.
- The ‘155 patent was originally owned by InfoBahn before being transferred to GateKeeper then GK Webb Services and finally to Intellectual Ventures.
One thing that is unclear at this point is the extent that the original sellers retain back-end compensation rights associated with these patents.