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‘I can give you 50 examples of ideas they’ve had where, if you take just one of them, you’d have a startup company right there,’

-Bill Gates

Since stepping down as the CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates has, for the most part, been in the news for his philanthropic work with his wife Melinda. His goal is to eradicate as many diseases around the world as possible. A noble goal indeed. It seems, however, that saving the lives of everyone on the planet isn’t enough to keep Gates busy.

Gates’s patent filings show that (at least as of 2012) he hasn’t slowed down his involvement with IV even as patent trolls are viewed in an increasingly negative light throughout the technology industry. Gates famously criticized technology patents and their impact on the industry in 1991, but he’s displayed a much more favorable view of patents since.

IV says it has acquired more than 70,000 patents and patent applications, and that nearly 40,000 are “in active monetization programs,” meaning other companies pay for licenses allowing them to use the patent technology without getting sued.

In other words, IV is extorting 40,000 companies under threat of lawsuits. The companies either pay up or face years of litigation. The thing with companies like IV is that it doesn’t matter to them whether or not they are right when it comes to the threats, it doesn’t even matter whether or not they would actually win a court case. Both they, and the companies they are extorting “monetizing”, know that IV has the money and resources to drag out a lawsuit long enough to bankrupt virtually any company that had the guts to stand up to them.

IV Labs: Intellectual Ventures Lab focuses its research on the very beginning stages of invention, validating the concept and refining the technology to demonstrate its potential for commercial or humanitarian use. We believe our unique approach, incredible people, and the lessons we’re learning along the way will position our inventors, scientists, and engineers to be the sparks that ignite tomorrow’s progress.

At least Gates hasn’t lost that vicious passion that helped make him the richest man in the world. But this is more proof that the patent system needs a serious overhaul. Wealthy people who have the time and means to just sit around and make up shit with no other intention than to sit on it indefinitely, patent it, and then sue anyone else who comes up with the idea and tries to put it to use is proof that the system is broken.

H/T ars technica

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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