When it comes to patent reform, inventors and other “non-practicing” patent owners might prefer to band together as brothers, united against the corporate interests backing S.23′s revolutionary upheaval to our centuries old traditions. As a “non-practicing” patent owner, however, Intellectual Ventures stands separate. While they initially opposed the bill with so much vigor as to hire a noted economist at a rate of $30,000 per month, their alleged breach of that contract has forced to light information suggesting IV raised funds to coordinate big labor’s 2007 opposition to patent reform, and claims that IV now supports patent reform.
By mid 2010, IV was officially urging the Senate leadership to allow a vote on the patent reform bill.
Further evidence cited by Choate is IV’s support of this year’s primary patent reform booster, Senator Patrick Leahy:
IV held fund-raising events for Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
For its part, IV likely could have kept all of this information quiet for the paltry sum of $500,000 (Yes–I am making the huge assumption that Choate’s allegations against IV did not come as a surprise, and that no lawsuit would have been filed if IV paid Choate the sum he asks for in his complaint). Peanuts to a firm that has generated $2 Billion in revenue to date. So why not pay Choate off, and keep all of this secret?
For those supporting patent reform (as IV now appears to), one easy way to discredit the anti-reform lobby is to make the public aware that a very high-profile political figure (and respected author) was, in actuality, a hired gun. Aren’t they all?, you might be asking yourself. Perhaps so, but when a man pens a thought-provoking editorial piece (See Choate’s article: Patent Theft As A Business Strategy), there’s typically an assumption that you’re reading his genuine opinion.
Granted, this information wouldn’t pack any punch if IV just issued a press release. Such admissions would probably come off as self-serving and be largely ignored … but by allowing the reveal through a carefully timed lawsuit, Choate’s claims can be reported with credibility and notoriety typically attributed to high-profile lawsuits.
If IV’s goal is to get patent reform ushered through Congress this year, Choate (knowingly or not) is playing right into their hands …
As to why IV is now supporting a reform movement it opposed not that long ago, that’s a discussion for another day.
In related news, both Dionne Searcy at WSJ Law blog and Joff Wild at IAM Blog have picked up on the Choate/IV controversy.
Choate (pictured) is suing Nathan Myhrvold’s secretive Intellectual Ventures, the mega patent aggregator, over a lobbying contract as reported here on Patrick Anderson’s blog. [Ed. note -- Aw shucks ...]
Myhrvold, who critics have labeled a “patent troll” recently released his mega cookbook on the science behind cooking.
Here’s what happened, according to the lawsuit: Choate was hired by Peter Harter, IV’s Washington lobbyist, in 2006 to blunt the patent reform movement churning in Congress that could have weakened the rights of patent owners such as Myhrvold.
From IAM Blog:
Where the real interest in this case may lie, though, is if it does actually go to trial. At that stage discovery kicks in … that may open the firm up to what it may consider very unwelcome public scrutiny. Given this, it will be interesting to see whether IV pays Choate some cash to make the suit go away. … On the other hand, given that this is likely to happen anyway should the other cases end up in court, IV may well feel it has nothing to lose. We shall see.
- Union Opposition To Patent Reform Legislation Funded By Intellectual Ventures (gametimeip.com)
- IV Patent Reform Lobbying Lawsuit – Headaches For Its Enforcement Efforts? (gametimeip.com)
- Nathan Myhrvold’s Lobbying Efforts Lead to . . . a Strange Lawsuit (blogs.wsj.com)
- Intellectual Ventures Generated $700 Million In Revenues In 2010 (businessinsider.com)
- Patent firm Intellectual Ventures taps new general counsel (techflash.com)