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Apple refuses to join Intellectual Ventures' new patent acquisition fund


Intellectual Ventures is a patent holding company that's often referenced as an example of widescale and aggressive patent trolling. Co-founded by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, Intellectual Ventures likes to spin its business model as creating a net benefit for the tech industry, a position which of course has earned the company more than its fair share of detractors. To put the scale of Intellectual Ventures into perspective, the company currently boasts more than 70,000 patents in its portfolio.

While Apple, not to mention a slew of other tech companies, are already investors in the company, Reuters reports that the good folks over in Cupertino recently declined an offer to join Microsoft, Sony, and others to join Intellectual Ventures' most recent acquisition fund which reportedly seeks to raise $3 billion to further future patent acquisition sprees.

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.

"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.

In recent months, Apple has become noticeably more vocal in denouncing patent trolls. This past February we reported that Apple, since 2009, has been the target of over 190 patent infringement lawsuits from non practicing entities. What's more, Apple recently revealed that they employ two attorneys "just to respond to letters that demand royalties."

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