“Patent buyer Intellectual Ventures has persuaded Microsoft and Sony to invest in its latest acquisition fund while Apple and Intel, which invested with IV previously, declined to participate, according to people briefed on the fundraising,” Dan Levine reports for Reuters. “The investment decisions by four iconic technology companies comes in the midst of a heated debate over whether it is too easy for patent owners to extract large royalty payments, and whether patent buying firms spur or stifle innovation.”
“Last year IV curtailed patent acquisitions as it sought new investors, and IV now is ramping up, say three sources familiar with IV’s activity in the patent market,” Levine reports. “‘Microsoft and Sony’s investments give IV a fresh war chest to buy new patents,’ said Kevin Jakel, chief executive of Unified Patents, which advises tech companies on alternatives to patent aggregators like IV.”
“But Apple and Intel’s decision is significant because the biggest tech companies have supported IV in the past. ‘This would be a dramatic departure,’ Jakel said,” Levine reports. “Intellectual Ventures declined to discuss investments. Microsoft, Sony, Intel and Apple also would not comment. It is unclear whether Intel and Apple could still opt to invest in IV’s vehicle at a later time.”
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