Public universities and even the US Navy have sold hundreds of patents to America's most notorious troll

Researcher Yarden Katz scraped the database of Intellectual Ventures, a giant business that buys up patents, but produces nothing but lawsuits (previously), and discovered that IV claims ownership of nearly 500 patents that were created at public expense by researchers employed by public universities, and another 100 or so patents filed by the US Navy.

The research comes as more than 100 universities have pledged not to sell their patents to trolls.

Both the University of California and Caltech signed the 2007 statement, yet IV now owns tens of patents from these schools that were filed after 2007. For instance, the IV portfolio includes a Caltech patent filed in 2010 (granted in 2011) and University of California patent filed in 2008 (granted in 2014). Other universities that signed the statement, such as Stanford, Harvard and MIT, did not have patents in the portfolio.

Apart from universities, IV’s portfolio includes nearly 100 patents from the U.S. Navy, as well as patents from weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. In addition, some notable computer scientists and software developers are listed as inventors on patents owned by IV, like Danny Hillis and the developer of Linux, Linus Torvalds.

Universities have turned over hundreds of patents to patent trolls [Yarden Katz/Medium]

Inside Intellectual Ventures' Portfolio: Nearly 500 University Patents [Elliot Harman/EFF]

Notable Replies

  1. Bernel says:

    Do we know if the universities actually sold directly to the trolls, or to another company that at least seemed legit? I imagine these trolls like to buy bankrupt companies owning patents and not much more, so if you sell to a startup that fail, the patent could up in the wrong hands.

  2. Couldn't there be a law forbidding NPEs from owning patents?

    If we shake off the republican crust that's stopped the gears of government turning, maybe...

  3. I don't believe that would be constitutional.

    I was thinking they should just put a "troll" box on the application form, and if you check the box you can't have any.

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