Intellectual Ventures Steps Up Legal Battle with Memory Manufacturers, Brings H-P, Best Buy & Others Along for the Fight

7/12/11Follow @curtwoodward

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purchased more than 30,000 patents, paid inventors “hundreds of millions of dollars,” and earned close to $2 billion in licensing fees.

Those super-wonky descriptions of its efforts isn’t enough, of course, to persuade critics that the company is anything more than a “patent troll” on steroids, an accusation that IV has generally shrugged off.

The other side of IV’s efforts involves supporting inventors who come up with new technologies, either through its network of affiliates or at its in-house invention lab over in Bellevue. They work in a wide variety of fields, tackling projects as diverse as mosquito-zapping lasers, light-bending “metamaterials,” and next-generation nuclear reactors. In its court filing, IV says it “has invested millions of dollars developing such ideas and has filed hundreds of patent applications on its inventions every year, making it one of the top patent filers in the world.”

Intellectual Ventures says it could be entitled to triple damages, “but in no event less than a reasonable royalty.” Five total patents are at issue, with Hynix being sued over all five and Elpida tied to three.

The other defendants are tied to all five patents in the lawsuit. They make up a long list of technology and retail companies: Acer, Adata, Asus, H-P, Kingston Technology, Logitech, Pantech, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. Intellectual Venture’s lawsuit essentially paints these companies as being pulled in downstream due to the infringement it’s claiming by Hynix and Elpida, saying those firms “induced” infringement by others who use, distribute, and sell products with Hynix and Elpida memory.

Elpida’s western U.S. offices said all inquiries about the lawsuit would have to be handled by the legal team in Japan. I’ve also e-mailed the contact I found for Hynix’s PR department and will update if I hear back.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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