Patents today seem to have a bad name, mostly due to some companies giving the entire system a black eye and launching the term “patent troll” into the technology lexicon. Regardless of personal views on this, Microsoft, along with Sony, have invested in Intellectual Ventures.
The report from Reuters tells us that both Apple and Intel declined investment in the venture. However, both companies have previously invested in the patent firm. The pass during this round of fundraising is considered significant, as past investments suggested support that now is perhaps lacking.
None of the companies involved, including IV itself, would comment on this. This all comes on the heels of possible patent reform on the horizon. It’s a thin line to walk, as patents offer insurance for the cost of innovation, but have also served as a beacon for the problems in today’s market, as shadow companies randomly buy up the rights to these patents and sue smaller companies over similar innovations.
According to 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”.
Should companies like Microsoft invest in such ventures? It's certainly a hot topic in today's technology world, which is filled with news of lawsuits, notably Apple and Samsung's high-profile court battles.