The Tangible IP blog recently reviewed the Economist's article on Intellectual Ventures (see here for the review). Head on the tails of the article follows a report that US telecommunications giant Verizon has exploited its USD 350 Million investment in Intellectual Ventures by having US Patent 5,410,344 assigned to it and then countersuing TiVo in its ongoing patent infringement suit (Verizon also allege in their counterclaim that TiVo infringe the following US Patents: 5,635,979, 5,973,684, 7,561,214, 6,367,078 which were already held by Verizon). The Assignment has not yet been recorded on the US PTO website which still lists an Intellectual Ventures subsidiary as the Assignee.
Intellectual Ventures has always maintained that it was not a "trolling" operation and here we have an example of the investment made by Verizon presumably paying off.
In another patent infringement dispute with Echostar, TiVo have been awarded damages of USD 200 million (down from the USD 1 billion claims by TiVo). The decision is being appealed according to a statement made by EchoStar. This was based on an assumed royalty rate of USD 1.25 per month per subscriber (according to the 10 Nov 2009 10-Q filing made by TiVo) Now I'm not certain of the market share of Verizon, but given it's size and reputation it may well be that the USD 350 million investment in Intellectual Ventures could easily pay off if the counterclaim against TiVo succeeds
Just for the record, the Harvard Business Review includes an interview with Nathan Myhrvold, CEO of Intellectual Ventures, in the March 2010 edition. It's available at http://hbr.org/2010/03/the-big-idea-funding-eureka/ar/1
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