BERKELEY, Calif., October 15, 2012—IP Checkups, Inc., a boutique patent analytics firm, today announced the launch of Case IV Thicket, an Indiegogo crowdfunded project designed to expose Intellectual Ventures’ hidden patent portfolio and make it freely available to the public. IP Checkups plans to release a free, online database of patents belonging to Intellectual Ventures and its shell companies. The database will be accompanied by a blog – the IV Thicket Case Files – in the style of a detective film noir, to follow IP Checkups’ research and discovery process into Intellectual Ventures’ patent portfolio.
Intellectual Ventures, among the largest patent holders in the United States, with an estimated 40,000 patents, actively and intentionally hides its portfolio in more than 1,200 shell companies. This eliminates transparency and increases Intellectual Venture’s leverage with potential licensees. Even though worldwide patent offices record patent ownership, they do not record financial ownership in the shell companies. Intellectual Ventures develops and buys patents in bulk, and then makes money from these patents through various questionable schemes, including licensing, partnerships, and patent lawsuits filed by shell companies.
“The U.S. government grants limited monopoly rights to patent owners, and in return, requires disclosure of these inventions and records of ownership,” said Matt Rappaport, founder and CEO of IP Checkups. “The whole purpose of the patent system is to share this information with the general public to make them aware of new innovations, and encourage companies to license and trade patents to develop innovative products. When you hide patent ownership through obscure shell companies as Intellectual Ventures does, you negate the entire purpose of the patent system – the development of an open marketplace of ideas.”
Investors and companies will be able to freely access the Intellectual Ventures database to research licensing opportunities and patent infringement litigation risks for new products. They will then be able to decide to abandon their product or bear the high costs of an Intellectual Ventures license.
“Indiegogo is the perfect venue for Case IV Thicket because the threat of patent litigation affects all startups and inventors,” said Lily Li, patent strategist at IP Checkups. “Our database and blog will help real innovators learn about the patent system and assess its risks.”
About IP Checkups:
IP Checkups was founded in 2004 as a boutique patent analytics firm. The company offers custom patent portfolio and technology analysis to corporate clients, investors, research institutions, and universities. IP Checkups PatentCAM™ subscriptions combine custom intellectual asset management and patent search services with powerful web-based software solutions enabling companies to identify, analyze, manage, monitor and update patent information relevant to their technology and markets.