High-tech patent wars: a new front


Paul J. Sutton

On December 8, 2010, high-tech companies learned that a previously sleeping giant armed with a multibillion dollar war chest and tens of thousands of patents had awakened with a roar.

Intellectual Ventures LLC, based in Bellevue, Washington, commenced three patent infringement lawsuits against nine defendants. In one suit, Intellectual Ventures sued security software companies Symantec Corp, McAfee Inc, Trend Micro Inc and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

In a second, it sued computer DRAM and flash memory chipmakers Elpida Memory Inc and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. Its third suit named field-programmable gate array semiconductor makers Altera Corp, Lattice Semiconductor Corp and Microsemi Corp.

Founded in 2000 by Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung, former Microsoft chief technology and architect officers, Intellectual Ventures has accumulated more than 30,000 patents, patent applications and licence assets.

Intellectual Ventures, patent troll,