Although this news is fairly old at this point, the Intellectual Ventures connection to Mission Abstract Data’s lawsuit against 116 media companies seems to have gone relatively unreported until last week. That’s when Tom Ewing (who runs an IP consulting firm) left a comment on Joff Wild’s article about NPR’s unflattering portrial of the IP world and IV in particular. Specifically, Tom mentioned that “[a]n IV-connected outfit called Mission Abstract Data LLC sued 116 radio stations in March for patent infringement. One could imagine that IV may have long-term plans for making itself heard in the media.”
Mission Abstract’s patents have a quite a history, including being the subject of a license agreement between Concert Technology Corporation and IM Networks (formerly Sonicbox), despite neither company having an apparent connection to the patents. Concert recently announced its offering of covenants not to sue in ICAP’s upcoming auction. Hopefully, a copy of the license agreement requested from the USPTO will shed some more light on this transaction.
In addition, the assignment history shows that Mission Abstract acquired the patents from their original owner, Haltek America, shortly after the company was formed, and then went through a series of name changes, revealing IV’s involvement, before resolving back to Mission Abstract. In an e-mail from Tom:
– Haltek to Mission Abstract Data occurred on 2007-07-12; Delaware says Mission Abstract Data was created on 2007-04-12. I’ve known about Mission Abstract for a couple of years now; it seems to be an IV entity, which was confirmed by the name change on 2011-02-04 … IV seems to like to unfurl its corporate colors right before a major transaction with a third party.
– On 2011-02-11, IV Audio Data changed its name back to Mission Abstract Data … why would they do that? I would imagine that this is when ownership of Mission Abstract Data – as a company – changed from IV to the investors. (No need to re-assign the patents.) The sole owner at present is Digimedia Holdings LLC, according to the Rule 7.1 disclosure, which according to Delaware wasn’t organized as a company until 2011-01-24. (The documents eventually filed in the case may present a clearer picture.)
In other words, the name change occurred before the company, which was then called Intellectual Ventures Audio Data, was sold to Digimedia Holdings. Digimedia promptly changed the name back to Mission Abstract. Regarding the suggestion that IV is still controlling the Mission Abstract litigation:
IV has previously sold IP to third parties for cash and a backend revenue share. The arrangement here looks similar. If it was IV operating on its own, it would have little reason (that I can think of) for a series of name changes and the creation of a new corporate entity to own the patents. Most IV shell companies are already owned/managed by other IV shell companies, for example.
Plus suing a huge number of folks in one giant case doesn’t seem like IV’s style. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a friendly licensing executive from IV hasn’t called all those defendants in the meantime with a “great deal” on the other 500+ radio related patents still held in the mother portfolio.
The next time a reporter asks IV to name an inventor that’s benefited from the patent aggregator’s work, I wonder if they’ll point to Robert Goldman …
- Intellectual Ventures Proves There Are No Mechanized Patent Owners (gametimeip.com)