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Leveling the Playing Field with Patents for Defensive Purposes

Today we announced a new customer, Dashwire, which creates mobile and web applications for easy setup, data backup and photo/video sharing between mobile devices. Dashwire is a young and successful company faced with litigation from a much larger competitor. By becoming an IV customer, Dashwire has established a foundation of patent coverage and also acquired patents to use for defensive purposes. As we wrote last week, with thousands of patents related to mobile devices, it’s no surprise that there’s patent infringement litigation in every part of the industry, from software and hardware to features and functions.

We’ve done similar deals in the past with mobile software company Vlingo and others. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.” By acquiring patents from IV to defend against litigation, companies can level the playing field with a strong IP strategy.

You can read more about our relationship with Dashwire in the press release.

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IV Signs Another Customer in the Mobile Telecoms Industry

In the past few years, as the smartphone industry has surged and new operating systems have begun competing with the established market players, the industry has seen an increase in litigation commonly referred to in the press as “smartphone wars.” Why has this happened? The reality is that as devices get more and more complex and contain even more features, no single company can own all the patents relevant to technology within an average mobile device. In fact, it’s been estimated that the average smartphone contains thousands of patents relating to software, hardware, messaging, connectivity and more.

What value does IV bring to the industry? We can help bridge the gap between the invention rights companies have and the rights they need. It’s been widely reported that IV has more than 30,000 patents, but what gets talked about less is how we compile these patents into portfolios that address the challenges of specific markets and industries. Today we announced that RIM is joining our growing list of licensees in the mobile communications industry, including SamsungHTC and mobile software company Vlingo, who see value in having access to IV’s patents to complement their own IP portfolios and stay competitive in the market.

You can read more about the relationship with RIM in our press release.

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Inventor Spotlight: IP-Based Startup ClevX and Its Founder Lev Bolotin

Next in our series of Inventor Spotlights, we highlight a savvy IP-based startup named ClevX and its founder and president/CEO Lev Bolotin. Lev, who arrived in the U.S. from Moscow with $36 in his pocket, used his inventive nature and robotics background to start his own company based on intellectual property.

ClevX’s proposition is quite aligned with ours – it aims to give tech companies a competitive edge by developing new technologies and licensing them to those companies. Lev explains that he observed the growth of Intellectual Ventures and the development of an invention capital market, and he realized he could create a company that fit within this newly viable market.

Take a few minutes to read our newest Inventor Spotlight about Lev Bolotin and ClevX, and learn how Lev brokered an acquisition deal with IV that helped fund ClevX and also benefited another company he consulted for.

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Students of Invention: Edward Jung Visits Beijing’s Peking University

The lecture hall was standing-room only at Beijing’s Peking University as our co-founder and CTO Edward Jung spoke to 300 students about the importance of invention on March 10th. Several members of our IV-China office also couldn’t resist attending the lecture.

Students of Invention: Edward Jung Visits Beijing’s Peking University

In addition to stressing the necessity of invention, Edward explained that great ideas will be needed to address major problems being faced by the students’ generation. From challenges with healthcare and energy to ecological stress and China’s economic growth, great ideas will be necessary to sustain their country’s future.

Edward challenged the students to overcome the fear of failure, which can prevent brilliant minds from becoming prolific inventors. Drawing from personal examples, he made the case that failure can be a great starting point, and a few successes can more than make up for the failures. He encouraged students to seek out situations that will allow them to fail and learn from their mistakes. After a brief Q&A session, students and professors stayed behind to mingle with Edward and the IV team, and discussed topics including methods of invention and IV’s operations in China.

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Our perspective on events in Japan

Our work brings us into close collaboration with some of the foremost experts in the nuclear energy arena. At TerraPower, we are working to advance future designs, therefore we’re not directly involved in the current situation in Japan. We are, however, getting first-hand accounts about how the global nuclear industry is working together to resolve the situation. Because of the natural disaster and fast-changing circumstances at the plants, we won’t speculate on problems encountered at the facilities. However, in response to inquiries concerning TerraPower’s technology, the traveling wave technology is unlike any design built today. Visit the TerraPower post about the situation in Japan to learn more.

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IV reveals metamaterial-based satellite communications user terminal technology at Satellite 2011

On Wednesday, March 16, Russell Hannigan, director of business development at IV®, spoke about some of IV’s work in the metamaterials space and revealed for the first time a project to develop technology for a new kind of flat and thin antenna optimized for mobile broadband satellite communications, such as for boats, planes and other vehicles. Unlike all other competing products that require complicated motors to steer the antenna physically so that it remains locked on the satellite, IV’s Metamaterial Surface Antenna Technology (MSA-T) is designed to steer a radio frequency beam electronically. Eliminating the motors greatly simplifies the user terminal, leading potentially to an order of magnitude reduction in size, weight, power and cost.

Russell joined a panel at SATELLITE 2011 in Washington D.C., where the title of his presentation was “Metamaterial Surface Antenna Technology (MSA-T): Ka-band satcom user terminal employing metamaterial technology to enable electronic beam steering.” We asked him to answer some questions about metamaterials and the pioneering work IV is doing, as well as provide recommendations on where to learn more about this fascinating technology.

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The Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic

The University of Pennsylvania Law School today announced the creation of the Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic. The clinic was made possible by a generous gift from Intellectual Ventures Founder and Vice Chairman Peter Detkin, who is an alumnus of both Penn Law and the Penn School of Engineering and Applied Science, and is on the Penn Engineering Board of Overseers. The clinic will provide a hands-on, practical experience with the technological, legal and business aspects of commercializing innovation.

This personal gift by Peter was inspired by his career working with various aspects of IP - as a partner at a law firm, at Intel as a vice president and assistant general counsel responsible for the patent, litigation and licensing departments, and as a founder of Intellectual Ventures. Peter feels that an understanding of intellectual property is vital for all business professionals.

As Peter put it himself, “My career has been at the intersection of law and technology, and I believe that all business and technology professionals need a solid understanding of intellectual property. Inventors need to understand how to secure their rights, and business people, who may or may not be the inventors, need to know what to do with those rights.”

As companies continue to expand their IP strategies and technology becomes increasingly complex, programs like this IP clinic will become crucial for students exploring careers in technology or intellectual property law.

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Nathan Myhrvold Unveils IV’s Self-Sanitizing Surfaces

Every year in the U.S. there are 1.7 million in-hospital infections, resulting in nearly 100,000 needless deaths. Those sobering statistics were the inspiration behind a series of invention sessions at IV that looked at ways to cut down the number of infections in healthcare field.

At OneMedForum in January, IV’s CEO Nathan Myhrvold discussed a particular invention, the self-sanitizing surface, which resulted from some of these health technology invention sessions. You can also learn more about IV’s self-sanitizing surfaces on the IV Lab blog, and you can find more information on IV’s Health Technology Inventions on our website.

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Introducing…(Drumroll, Please)…Inventor Spotlights!

Today we’re launching a new section on our website called Inventor Spotlights. It’s designed to do exactly what it sounds like – highlight an inventor that IV works with. Many of the patents that we acquire come from individual inventors and inventive companies who decide they want to monetize their portfolios for one reason or another. Often, they want to have the financial freedom to continue following their passion for inventing. Last week, we discussed the example of a company called FSMLabs. As their CEO Victor Yodaiken told the Securities Technology Monitor, “For us, this is simply a way to monetize our research investment and accelerate our business.”

Whether we’re interacting with individuals who invent in their spare time or with inventive companies, we evaluate each patent to ensure that it aligns well with our broader licensing goals. If it does, we purchase the patent and invest in its maintenance, freeing up the inventor to continue doing what they do best – solving problems and developing new ideas.

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Why IV Takes a Global Stance on Innovation

As many in the technology and economics sectors have noted, innovation in Asia is on a major upswing. The first time I heard the phrase “The Asian Century” was in 1992 at AT&T Bell Laboratories. At the time, American companies were making plans to address long-term opportunities in Asia. They felt that Asia would have the largest and fastest-growing markets, and thus the 21st century would be “The Asian Century.”

Now, in early 2011, the news is full of reports on patent filings from inventors in Asian countries and it’s clear that The Asian Century has arrived, though perhaps the phrase “Global Century” would be more accurate. There’s a fascinating discussion going on now about global innovation. Scott Anthony, managing director of Innosight Ventures, has written a few blog posts for the Harvard Business Review about his personal experiences with innovation in Asia after moving to Singapore.  He brings up excellent points and I agree with his observations and recommendations.

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