Snapshot of US patent landscape: Intellectual Venture’s Shell Companies

A while ago, I came across a Malcolm Gladwell article on insight and innovation, which mentioned a company called Intellectual Ventures.

In 1999, when Nathan Myhrvold left Microsoft and struck out on his own, he set himself an unusual goal. He wanted to see whether the kind of insight that leads to invention could be engineered. He formed a company called Intellectual Ventures. He raised hundreds of millions of dollars. He hired the smartest people he knew. It was not a venture-capital firm. Venture capitalists fund insights—that is, they let the magical process that generates new ideas take its course, and then they jump in. Myhrvold wanted to make insights—to come up with ideas, patent them, and then license them to interested companies.

Intellectual Ventures sounded like a company of the new millennium: first-rate minds brought together, given free reign over where they were going. Jump-starting innovation. Leading the way to the bright technological future.

It turns out, IV is more like an arch-villain’s lab. Its main business model is essentially patent trolling, and thanks to the complexities of the modern world, it does so through shell companies.

For years, IV itself liked to say that it wasn’t involved in any patent litigation directly (that changed not so long ago), but we had seen some IV patents showing up from some small patent trolls, where it was impossible to determine who actually controlled the patent or the lawsuits. However, at times, other companies have argued that the shell lawsuits were really IV in disguise. (Techdirt: Intellectual Ventures: Don’t Mind Our 2000 Shell Companies, That’s Totally Normal)

There has been some speculation as to how many shell companies IV had. Well, PlainSite has dug through the data from the USPTO and compiled a list of companies with ties to Intellectual Ventures.

We combed through 15GB of this data and linked up every patent assignment with the PlainSite entity, law firm and attorney databases to create an improved version of the USPTO assignment database, which we’ve made available for free. Then we tagged all of the companies that have links to attorneys and mailing addresses frequently used by Intellectual Ventures. The resulting list is about 2,000 companies.

IV, of course, sees nothing wrong with the practice, but one is to wonder whether a company doing honest R&D would really need 2000 aliases.

New diagrams: Care / Des soins

Voici le premier set de diagrammes en français, portant sur l’autorisation aux soins. Le code civil énonce le principe voulant que nul ne puisse porter atteinte à l’intégrité de la personne sans son consentement. Les soins médicaux constituent une atteinte. Il est donc nécessaire d’encadrer l’obtention du consentement.

Nous présentons ici 2 versions des articles 10 à 18 du CCQ portant sur le consentement aux soins.

Le premier diagramme présente les articles selon l’ordre et la structure du code.

Le deuxième diagramme reprend le style des deux colonnes (voir billet précédent). La colonne de gauche présente les règles concernant qui peut consentir, et la colonne de droite contient les modalités s’appliquant au consentement.

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This new set of diagrams are on consent to medical care. The Civil Code sets down the principle whereby no one may violate a person’s physical integrity without consent. Medical care are considered a violation, so it is necessary to get a person’s consent before providing care.

We have here 2 versions of articles 10 to 18 of the Civil Code of Qc, which are on consent to care.

The first diagram is a straightforward visualisation of the articles, closely following the CCQ’s order and structure.

The second diagram follows the two-column system put forward in the last post. The left column contains rules on who may give consent, and the right column, the conditions that applies to the consent. I believe the two-column system helps a lot in understanding how the various rules relate to each-other.

First diagrams: successions

The first set of diagrams have just been posted, and can be found here: Order of devolution of successions.

This chapter in the Code deals with the distribution of a deceased’s assets in the absence of a will. This section is especially interesting to visualise, as the rules follow a strict logic, but are written in an awkward way.

We have two flowchart diagrams. The first one is a straightforward flowchart that respects the articles’ sequence and the structure of each article. The 2nd one is a digested version. If you analyse the chapter, you see 3 types of articles: definitions, rules about the proportion which groups of relatives inherit, and rules about how much each individual inherits.

The 2nd flowchart has definitions removed, and the 2 columns separate rules for groups of relatives and rules for individuals.

We have also made 3 other simple infographics based on the rules in this chapter.

Diagram representing the members of different groups of relatives defined in the Code.

Venn diagram showing share by group of surviving relative. Note: descendants have priority, so apply the other circles only if there are no descendants.

Simple version of the above diagram.

Whew, once again.

Lexagraph finally has its own home in the big big web, and hopefully we’re here to stay!

We had a tiny bit of a snafu 2 weeks ago as a system update by our host wiped out our new WordPress install, and of course nobody had any backups at that point. (These things always happen to me somehow.)

Hopefully everything will go well now!

Content should be uploaded shortly. :)