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Intellectual Ventures, IP, Patent, Walker Digital

Has Jay Walker Rendered Intellectual Ventures Irrelevant?

In a new age of large-scale patent assertion, Walker Digital may have outdone all earlier comers, including Intellectual Ventures, and the inexplicably notable Interval Licensing.

PaidContent.org staff reporter Joe Mullin asks:

Is Jay Walker jealous of Paul Allen? Allen got a lot of press when he sued 11 big internet companies last year, essentially saying he patented ideas like “related links.” Walker has been dabbling in the world of patent-trolling for over a year now, but with no such fanfare; …. Now maybe he’ll get his turn in the spotlight: he’s filed 15 lawsuits against more than 100 defendants, including Microsoft, eBay (NSDQ: EBAY), Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Facebook, WalMart, Groupon, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Google.

via Jay Walker Goes Nuclear: Priceline Founder Sues More Than 100 Companies

And Mullin isn’t the only one making this comparison.  From PCMag.com:

The effort is similar to a patent battle currently being waged by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Allen sued Apple, Google, Facebook, and others in August on behalf of Interval Licensing LLC, which is part of Interval Research, the now defunct company founded in 1992 by Allen and David Liddle.

via Priceline Founder Goes on Patent Lawsuit Binge, Sues Apple, Google, More

Right of the bat, I want to be clear about one thing: the only similarity between Allen’s activities and Walker’s is that they are both patent infringement lawsuits.  That is pretty much where the similarities end. Interval Licensing claims to have invented “fundamental” web technologies, but is that literally true? I’ve already examined one of Interval’s patent claims in detail, and I honestly think that, while the technology may be in use, and it may be important, it certainly isn’t fundamental to the existence of the internet.  In addition, Interval Research was an investment by Allen.

Walker, by contrast, is co-inventor on many of Walker Digital‘s patents.  As far as the importance of Walker Digital’s patented technology, I didn’t see any bold claims about claiming credit to entire industries, though he has stated that “A number of great companies can trace their genesis to technology that was first developed at Walker Digital in the mid-to-late 1990s.”  Whether this will prove to be true remains to be seen as people analyze the patent claims over the coming weeks and months.  However, things already look positive from Walker’s perspective, as contributions by the likes of notable experts have already been recognized.

One thing is certain, however.  Paul Allen’s lawsuit was, by many accounts, a fairly pedestrian effort (even falling victim to the fairly “rookie” mistake of getting too stingy with the details).  Even the breadth of the accusations and depth of targets was on the “smallish” side.  Lawsuits against 10 or 11 companies, while seemingly aggressive, probably happen to the tune of, at least, a couple of times per week. It is likely Allen’s connection to Microsoft that was the primary driver behind all of the media coverage.

Walker Digital’s action includes 36 different patents and over 130 companies named in 16 (not the reported 15) lawsuits, including several companies named in multiple lawsuits (up to 6 for Sony).  For the rest of my career, I may never again witness a torrent of lawsuits this impactful.

Beyond Interval Licensing, however, is the other, dare I say, former 800 lb gorilla, Intellectual Ventures. Recall from Gametime IP in December:

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve already heard the news.  Not only has IV filed its first three lawsuits,but they’ve done it in a very public manner, issuing their own press release identifying the defendants and providing PDF copies of the complaints.

via And The Other Shoe Just Dropped … Intellectual Ventures Files Its First Patent Infringement Lawsuits

Well, Jay Walker’s boots on the ground have just made Nathan Myhrvold’s shoe look like a flip-flop.  Think about it.

Not counting its “puppetmaster” litigation, IV has filed 3 lawsuits against 9 companies, asserting a total of 16 patents.  Yes, a whopping 16 out of 30,000 patents that it spent over $2 Billion collecting.  While Albert Pujols might be jealous of IV’s batting average*, Walker Digital stands to significantly outperform the 0.05% hit rate by monetizing more than 10% of its portfolio.

When it comes to patent licensing, quality is more important than quantity.  Walker is capitalizing on research conducted through his firm specifically emphasizing strong intellectual property protection.  IV, on the other hand, draws upon patents from a miscellaneous collection of businesses and inventors, with likely wide variances in investment and quality.  That’s not to say that all inventors and small businesses get junky patents, but there was no single quality control in place when assembling IV’s portfolio.  And if you don’t already, you should know that patent attorneys are not fungible.

Jay Walker’s statement said that he “hope[s] this effort will contribute to the process of moving the asset class of patents and Intellectual Property out of the stone age …” If, by that, he meant lifting us out of an age where we gauge the strength of the portfolio based on the number of stones, I think we’re on our way.

* In 15 years, when Albert is in the Hall of Fame, that joke probably won’t make any sense without the link …

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Has Jay Walker Rendered Intellectual Ventures Irrelevant?

  1. I only reviewed two of the patents in question, but I think the Walker litigation is stretching with quite a few of those defendants. I wouldn’t call this portfolio stronger than IV. I also think that discounting IV’s very successful licensing program by suggesting that this is their premier monetization effort is incorrect. I don’t know how the numbers shake out for licensing revenues for IV and Walker, prior to these suits.

    Posted by Judith_IP | April 13, 2011, 8:14 pm
  2. Judith,

    Thanks for reading.

    As to the success of IV’s licensing program prior to the litigation, as I mentioned in an earlier post, they may have taken in $2 Billion to date. However, they’ve spent an estimated $1.2 Billion on patents.

    http://gametimeip.com/2010/12/10/and-the-other-shoe-just-dropped-intellectual-ventures-files-its-first-patent-infringement-lawsuits/

    According to Walker Digital’s released information, they claim to have raised $200 M in licensing revenues. What I’m lacking is how much they spent to get there.

    All of that said, the point is that both WD’s and IV’s lawsuits were prompted by a lack of traction in a non-litigation based licensing campaign. If IV had the ammunition in their 30,000 patent arsenal to launch an enforcement campaign on the scale that WD has, I believe they’d have done it by now.

    Posted by Patrick | April 13, 2011, 8:31 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: History Repeating Itself? Jay Walker’s Patent Licensing Efforts Reminiscent Of Another Legendary Inventor « Gametime IP - April 21, 2011

  2. Pingback: Google Sued Over Daily Deal Business Venture « Gametime IP - April 22, 2011

  3. Pingback: Amazon Subscription Purchasing System Accused Of Infringing Walker Digital Patent « Gametime IP - April 22, 2011

  4. Pingback: No Rest For Walker Digital – Patent Sales Announced On Heels Of Unprecedented Monetization Efforts « Gametime IP - May 11, 2011

  5. Pingback: The Intellectual Ventures Investment List — An Unwelcome Revelation? « Gametime IP - May 19, 2011

  6. Pingback: University of Texas Endowment Fund Manager Comments On Patents & Intellectual Ventures Investment « Gametime IP - June 5, 2011

  7. Pingback: Intellectual Ventures Proves There Are No Mechanized Patent Owners « Gametime IP - July 14, 2011

  8. Pingback: Intellectual Ventures Flexes Some Patent Muscle « Gametime IP - February 17, 2012

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