Former Microsoft boss targets insecurity outfits

A former Imperium Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold is chasing nine insecurity outfits and chip makers who he thinks nicked his ideas.

Myhrvold heads up an outfit called Intellectual Ventures and he has filed three patent infringement lawsuits against nine companies in the security, memory, and chip markets.

One lawsuit names defendants as Check Point , McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro. They are accused of infringing on four patents related to antivirus and internet security.

The second suit accuses Elpida and Hynix of infringing between five and seven of its patents.

His third suit claims that three makers of Field-Programmable Gate Array logic chips, Altera, Lattice Semiconductor and Microsemi, infringed upon between three and five patents.

The lawsuits were filed in federal court in Delaware.

Intellectual Ventures has been politely described as having a business model based on developing or acquiring patents and then licensing them to others. According to the company it was founded in 2000 with a goal of investing in invention.

A less polite way to describe the outfit is being fond of hiding under bridges and trying to eat Billy Goats Gruff.

Seattle Post said of the outfit that it’s not unreasonable to label Intellectual Ventures as a “giant pyramid scheme and a protection racket”.

Myhrvold has gathered 20,000 patents and is now extracting licence fees from companies that are using them. But what becomes interesting is that licensees also become investors in Intellectual Ventures, and they subsequently benefit from shaking down other companies.

In the lawsuits Intellectual Ventures said that it approached the defendants asking them nicely to write a cheque and were told to go forth and multiply.