John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

And Intellectual Ventures Says Lawsuits Are a Ridiculous Way to Do Business

Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold once said “lawsuits are a ridiculous way to do business.” But evidently not so ridiculous that the “invention capital firm” — or patent troll, depending on your views on innovation and intellectual property — is above resorting to them when it can’t extract the licensing fees it feels it’s owed.

Late Monday, IV filed suit against Hynix Semiconductor and Elpida Memory alleging the two companies have infringed several of its patents related to DRAM and Flash memory. Also named in the suit: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Logitech, Best Buy and a handful of other companies that make or sell devices running on Hynix or Elpida chips. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

According to the complaint, IV approached Hynix Semiconductor in 2008 and Elpida in 2009 in an effort to negotiate licenses for the patents at issue here, but was rebuffed. “Despite Intellectual Ventures’ good faith efforts to negotiate a business solution, [Hynix and] Elpida [have] failed and refused to license Intellectual Ventures’ patents on reasonable terms and continues to use those inventions without permission,” IV explains in its complaint. “[It] has been irreparably harmed by Defendants’ acts of infringement, and will continue to be harmed unless and until Defendants’ acts of infringement are enjoined and restrained by order of this Court.”

The suit, IV’s fourth since it was first established, confirms once and for all that the company is willing to litigate to win the patent licensing deals on which its business depends. And that has wide implications for the tech industry. As IP attorney Bijal Vakil said last year when IV sued a handful of security software outfits, “It’s a pretty significant wake-up call for Silicon Valley companies that the threat of this type of massive litigation is real and it’s not going away anytime soon.”

[Image credit: Jan Tik/Flickr]

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