Intellectual Ventures Sues Motorola Amid Acquisition by Google – an IV Investor

10/6/11Follow @curtwoodward

Intellectual Ventures is stepping up its position in the mobile patent wars, suing Motorola Mobility in federal court today for allegedly infringing on a range of patents covering hardware and software.

Irony alert: Google, which is in the middle of acquiring Motorola Mobility for about $12.5 billion, has been listed in previous court filings as an investor in Intellectual Ventures, possibly through a licensing agreement. Motorola’s own patents were a major reason behind the acquisition—they were touted specifically by Google CEO Larry Page in this August blog post.

Patent expert and blogger Florian Mueller writes that, even though Google’s financial stake is in an IV subsidiary fund that’s not involved in the new Motorola suit, the development amounts to an “own goal” on Google’s part. (He’s also got some critical analysis of Google’s willingness to defend the Android ecosystem).

In a blog post announcing the lawsuit, Intellectual Ventures lawyer Melissa Finocchio writes that IV has “a responsibility to our current customers and our investors to defend our intellectual property rights against companies such as Motorola Mobility who use them without a license.”

“Our goal continues to be to provide companies with access to our portfolio through licensing and sales, but we will not tolerate ongoing infringement of our patents to the detriment of our current customers and our business,” Finocchio writes.

As Ina Fried at AllThingsD points out at the end of this post, this suit just adds to the long list of patent claims being tossed around between technology heavyweights, including Apple, Samsung, HTC, and Microsoft. One thing of note, however: I wouldn’t say this really constitutes Intellectual Ventures “joining” the mobile patent wars, since it already has publicly cut licensing deals with both Samsung and HTC, among others.

Intellectual Ventures was co-founded and is led by Nathan Myhrvold, the former CTO of Microsoft. The court filing says Intellectual Ventures has “a portfolio of more than 35,000 assets,” with more than 3,000 patents or applications the result of the firm’s in-house invention lab or its network of contract inventors.

Intellectual Ventures also reiterates that it has earned more than $2 billion so far from licensing patents, and has paid more than $400 million to “individual inventors.”

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

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  • bm

    Intellectual Ventures and other non-practicing-entities/patent trolls are sort of analogous to nuclear armed rogue states- opposing superpowers have cities and bases vulnerable to the other sides’ weapons (the patents here) which can result in a stable balance of terror or MAD. But a heavily armed participant with nothing to defend can more effectively engage in nuclear/patent blackmail.

    Google might do well to pick up some patents to do with lasers, nuclear power, or climate change mitigation since those are the supposed products of IV, and then commence with counter suits.