Owning 95,000 patents

“After 10 Years, Nathan Myhrvold’s $3 Billion Of Private Equity Funds Show Big Losses” (Forbes) is interesting for a tidbit on the second page:

In total Myhrvold’s firm has acquired 95,000 patents…

Just imagine the number of hours that has gone into writing these patents, examining them, deciding whether or not any of them are relevant, etc.!

12 Comments

  1. Pavel

    June 12, 2018 @ 12:40 pm

    1

    Another rent seeking enterprise, and they are loosing money? They must be doing doing something wrong, we all know rent seeking creates jobs and infinite economic growth.

    Myhrvold made a bet that sitting on a bunch of patents backed up by lawyers making extortion threats would make lots of money and he lost.

    Here is a paper that Myhrvold did not read
    “in general, no statistically significant correlation between measures of productivity and of patenting activity”
    https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.27.1.3

  2. Tony Doe

    June 12, 2018 @ 1:02 pm

    2

    Phil: Why would someone so rich who’s done so many productive things stoop to such a parasitic rent-seeking enterprise? Infestation with satan at microsoft?

  3. the other Donald

    June 12, 2018 @ 2:44 pm

    3

    pretty good prospects for an expert patent witness?

  4. Viking

    June 12, 2018 @ 3:39 pm

    4

    Why is this rent seeking? I must have missed the part where they lobbied the government for policies that force customers in their direction. On the other hand, if you were talking about AED sellers, I can see the rent seeking aspect.

  5. Mememe

    June 12, 2018 @ 3:43 pm

    5

    Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are centuries old. The term “intellectual property” did not exist at the beginning of the last century.

    “Intellectual property” is a perfect example of Rousseau’s critique of property:

    Long ago, one caveman said to another, ‘This is mine,’ and the other caveman was stupid enough to believe him.

  6. Tom

    June 12, 2018 @ 5:19 pm

    6

    Mobiles seem to be a field where entrants need to license patent portfolios in order to function. Perhaps he should have figured out some way to financialize the patents of, say, Nokia.

  7. Dan

    June 12, 2018 @ 5:36 pm

    7

    Maybe the patents were worthless. He should have bought Nortel patents:

    https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/07/01/apple-and-microsoft-beat-google-for-nortel-patents/

  8. anon

    June 12, 2018 @ 6:13 pm

    8

    > Just imagine the number of hours that has gone into writing

    Not as many as you might think. I read that Nerdvold and his ex-MS friends would hold “parties” where they would just spew out random ideas to scribes whose job was to type them up with broad obfuscated jargon, then send applications off to the uspto.

    > Just imagine the number of hours that has gone into … examining them

    Not enough. Probably > 99.9% them are too vague, broad, trivial, and/or obvious to have ever have been granted in the first place.

    Maybe after god-emperor Trump eliminates trade deficits, colonizes NKorea, and brings peace to the Middle East he will fix the uspto (stop incentivizing reviewers to pass junk, simple test for obviousness to invalidate, new claims get only provisional status until challenged+defended, etc). http://www.kauffman.org has good ideas on this.

  9. MLZ

    June 13, 2018 @ 12:40 am

    9

    The US patent law must be reformed.

    People who have no intention of practicing the patent application, or who fails to demonstrate genuine effort at attempting to bring it to market should not be granted a patent.

  10. Mark

    June 13, 2018 @ 1:51 am

    10

    Another fine example of a person who experiences success in one field yet then loses huge sums in a field that’s not his forte.

  11. E

    June 13, 2018 @ 10:18 am

    11

    I wonder how much skin he had in his own game? Or was the $2,000,000,000 strictly other people’s money, investments made based on his name and track record. The article points out that he has “washed his hands” of the funds.

    “Nevertheless, Myhrvold has washed his hands of Invention Development Fund. It is now being managed by a new firm, Allied Inventors Management, which was set up solely to run Invention Development Fund outside of Intellectual Ventures.”

    And I wonder if he was sold a bill of goods in the first place?

    “Invention Development Fund’s capital was initially deployed at Intellectual Ventures by Andre Lee, who played a central role in bringing down one of Asia’s best known investment banks, Peregrine, in 1998. Lee was running Invention Development Fund while at the same time being barred by a Hong Kong court from being a director of a Hong Kong company.”

    Good ideas need good people. “Bad ideas and good people” is a losing combination as is “good ideas and bad people”. History is rife with examples of this.

  12. Viking

    June 13, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

    12

    @anon:

    “Maybe after god-emperor Trump eliminates trade deficits, colonizes NKorea, and brings peace to the Middle East he will fix the uspto (stop incentivizing reviewers to pass junk, simple test for obviousness to invalidate, new claims get only provisional status until challenged+defended, etc). http://www.kauffman.org has good ideas on this.”

    Agree about the obviousness, USPTO should should not issue the majority of the patents they do issue, however in an alternate universe, were the default is that the patent office only issues worthy patents, the claims should be presumed to be valid, not just provisional.

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