Apple and Intel have declined to invest in patent buyer Intellectual Ventures (IV), while Microsoft and Sony are remaining supportive of IV’s plans, people briefed with the fundraising tell Reuters. Chief executive of Unified Patents Kevin Jakel believes Apple’s and Intel’s departures would be dramatic, as they come at a time when the smartphone industry is full of intellectual property lawsuits; more notably, the second round of patent litigation between Apple and Samsung.
Apple and Intel had previously invested in Intellectual Ventures alongside Microsoft and Sony. As a result, they received a portion of royalties IV collected.
Patent buyer Intellectual Ventures has persuaded Microsoft and Sony to invest in its latest acquisition fund while Apple and Intel, which invested with IV previously, declined to participate, according to people briefed on the fundraising.
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.
Apple have joined other US corporations such as Microsoft, IBM, and others by forming a lobby group opposing the proposed changes to the American patent system, which allow the patent lawsuit winner to more easily collect fees, as this could trigger an avalanche of the already numerous patent infringement lawsuits filed by patent trolls.
Some say Apple’s departure is related to the debate on patent reform, while others believe it isn’t. Fact is, Intellectual Ventures have earned more than $3 billion in licensing fees since 2000 when it was founded.