Staff Spotlight: IV in Ireland

The invention marketplace is global — and so is IV. Declan Carew is one of our worldwide employees based in Ireland.

Declan draws from a unique mix of experiences while developing commercial investment strategies for IV. His background includes working for a range of multinational companies in varied roles including R&D and commercial product/service development, to coaching his sons’ teams in GAA (Irish Football and Hurling) and rugby.

Visit our latest staff spotlight to read Declan’s take on technology and IP development, and learn how he builds relationships from the “other side of the pond.”

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IV Investigates: Research Highlights from IV Lab

If you follow our Insights blog, you’ve read about some important milestones in the invention industry – from new technology development to patent reform. Insights is just one of the ways we participate in the conversation about invention and share information about who we are and what we do.

IV Investigates: Research Highlights from IV Lab

Photo: At the research bench in IV’s Electronics Lab

Another important way we highlight what we’re working on is through peer-reviewed research. Nathan Myhrvold, our CEO, has shared research on everything from intellectual property to paleontology, and employees across the company are encouraged to follow suit to promote collaboration with other scientists and, we hope, advance the many fields we work in.

Most recently, several IV Lab teams have published scientific papers about their investigations of malaria and tuberculosis diagnostics:

To keep following the latest research and published works from IV employees, bookmark IV Lab’s Investigate blog. 

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A New Way of Building

Intellectual Ventures invests in inventions that span a wide range of technologies – communications, computer hardware, security, and more. Today we rolled out a new case study and video highlighting our investment in a different kind of technology area: building construction.

A New Way of Building

Where is the need for innovation in a business that has followed traditional building practices for hundreds of years?

From residential neighborhoods to urban centers, growing populations and demands on resources are forcing a shift in the way we build. Seattle-based architecture firm CollinsWoerman and the team behind their affiliate Sustainable Living Innovations took that challenge as an opportunity to invent a solution that delivers significant improvements over customary construction techniques. They developed an advanced method that uses a kit of prefabricated components to improve building quality, reduce maintenance, and make building faster, cheaper, and more sustainable.

To support implementation of their new technology in global markets, CollinsWoerman teamed up with Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Development Fund. We’re now working together in a joint venture called Innovative Building Technologies, LLC to protect, develop, and market the component-based building system and emergent related inventions.

Watch a short film about the joint venture.

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IV in the Community: September

From Tokyo to Seattle to Vancouver, members of IV’s team will be traveling around the world this month to provide their thoughts on everything from localized IP management to patent policy and politics.

IV in the Community: September

Masanobu Katoh, executive director and country head of IV’s Invention Development Fund (IDF) will be speaking on September 4 at the IP Business Congress Japan in Tokyo. This year, the core themes of the event include IP value creation and strategic corporate IP management in a Japanese context.

On September 5, several members of IV’s leadership team including CEO Nathan Myhrvold, CTO Edward Jung and Maurizio Vecchione, vice president of Global Good will speak at the Boao Forum for Asia in Seattle. Nathan will be joining the secretary general of Boao, former secretary of treasury Henry Paulson, and Bill Gates to discuss collaboration between the US and China. Edward and Maurizio will talk about the global benefits of Asia’s invention boom and how scientific breakthroughs and global collaboration can deliver better health outcomes and ensure sustainable development, respectively.

Nathan will also be speaking at the 42nd IPO Annual Meeting in Vancouver on September 8, where he’ll discuss the economy of invention.

Finally, IV’s chief policy counsel Russ Merbeth is speaking on September 18 at a Connecticut Intellectual Property Law Association event on the topic of patent policy and politics.

For more information about IV speaking engagements or to inquire about a speaker for your event, please contact  

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IP Resources for the C-Suite

Are you putting intellectual property (IP) to work for your company? Those at the helm of both large and small companies recognize that safeguarding patented assets is crucial to developing and maintaining a competitive edge. In fact, 70 percent of business leaders who participated in a market research on patent attitudes study last year believe patents are good for innovation. And yet only one quarter of those decision makers feel patent savvy.

While you don’t necessarily need to be a patent expert, there are plenty of IP resources to help you and your fellow C-suite executives confidently evaluate your company’s IP strategy. To kick off a patent strategy discussion at your next board meeting, start with these five tips from IP-savvy sources:

Asses Your Company’s IP Awareness
The first step to understanding how IP can help your businesses succeed is to assess the overall awareness of your IP portfolio — or lack thereof. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers an online tool — The Intellectual Property Awareness Assessment — that covers categories ranging from IP strategies and best practices to international IP rights. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all there is to consider when it comes to intellectual property, this is a good place to start.

Learn What Can Be Patented
While you’re visiting the USPTO, you’ll notice they have a virtual treasure trove of resources for individual and corporate innovators alike, including tips on what can and can’t be patented. No matter what business you’re in — from wireless communications to healthcare — the products and business methods your company is innovating could become valuable sources of revenue and competitive advantage. Are you considering which of your business assets is patentable?

Keep Current on IP Law
A patent attorney will be your greatest asset, but there is some hope available for the rest of us laymen. For members of the C-suite, IPWatchdog is a blog to bookmark. Ranked one of the top 100 legal blogs by the American Bar Association, the site provides a wealth of information on the business, policy, and substance of patents and other IP. 

Own Your Intellectual Property
As soon as your company begins to develop a product or a business plan around an invention, you are creating IP. Entrepreneur suggests that the IP your company is developing should belong to the business — not the individuals behind the invention — where it can create value for the company.

And a few bonus tips from Entrepreneur: “Why Protecting Intellectual Property is Crucial to Business Success on 5 Counts.

Develop a Patent Strategy
Now that you’ve protected your company’s inventions, how do you generate a return on your significant investment? For example, a CEO of a VC-backed start-up may look at how building a strong patent portfolio weighs substantially in their company’s favor at IPO, or a CFO may source new R&D funding by divesting assets that are no longer strategic to the company. Either way, the right patent investments can play an important role in increasing the bottom line.

Becoming better informed on patent strategy is valuable, but there is also a growing industry of experts putting patents to work for the C-suite as well. Learn more about C-suite patent strategies and resources available through Intellectual Ventures

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Wishing Kymeta a Happy Anniversary

What do you get a company that within its first two years has experienced unprecedented success and growth? The tradition of paper just doesn't seem sufficient. Don’t take our word for it. Check out some of the announcements and media coverage from the past two years.

Wishing Kymeta a Happy Anniversary

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Discovery Corps Students Go Behind the Scenes at IV

As a longtime supporter of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, we were pleased to play host recently to a group of Pacific Science Center (PSC) Discovery Corps students. Discovery Corps’ goal is to inspire young people with a lifelong interest in science, math and technology. To learn what it takes to work on the forefront of invention, we invited the students to tour IV’s Lab and visit with our president, COO and PSC board member, Adriane Brown. 

Discovery Corps Students Go Behind the Scenes at IV


Enthusiastic and full of questions, the students made the most of their visit inquiring about everything from what the job of a company president entails to how IV is helping eradicate malaria. Discovery Corps student Nathan Johnson had this to say about his visit:

“…I thought it was amazing that even though their ideas would seem far-fetched to the normal person, they were able to think ‘outside the box’ and do amazing things advancing technology. They invented lightweight antennas using metamaterials (materials artificially made with properties not found in nature), a more efficient nuclear reactor using nuclear waste, a super cold thermos for vaccine preservation, a powerful 500 core computer used for disease spread simulations, and a mosquito killing laser made specifically to take out malaria (by shooting the female mosquitoes only)…”



We couldn’t agree more with Nathan. If Discovery Corps students are any indication of the future of STEM, it looks awfully bright.

Additional information on IV’s support of STEM education can be found at Project Eureka!.

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Inventor Superhero: Claude Shannon

Just like Marvel Comic’s heroes, inventors venture into unexplored territory, overcome obstacles, and improve the world around them. Tinkering away in their invention lairs, inventors make the real-life gadgets that crack codes and save the world. They have the brainpower to solve complex problems that ordinary citizens can’t match. And like our most beloved superheroes, inventors inspire us to strive for ingenuity and pursue our dreams.

Inventor Superhero: Claude Shannon

Inventor Superhero: Claude Elwood Shannon (1916-2001)

Superpowers: Mathematics, cryptography, card tricks, unicycling, juggling

Eureka! Moment:  When Shannon was in his 30s, he showed that text, telephone signals, radio waves, pictures, film — any form of communication — could be encoded in bits. This universal language written in binary digits 1 and 0 is known as binary code. Shannon developed a theory that once information was transcribed in binary code, it could be perfectly transmitted without error. His theory made it possible to use bits in computer storage. Today, many communication lines are measured in bits per second.

Cool Gadget: The Ultimate Machine. Shannon built a box with a large switch on the side. When the switch is flipped on, the lid rises to reveal a mechanical hand. The hand then reaches down, turns off the switch, and withdraws, leaving the box in its original closed state.

Superhero Lair: Bell Laboratories and MIT

Childhood Hero: Thomas Edison, who was Shannon’s distant cousin

Nemesis: Groupies. In his 1956 paper The Bandwagon, Shannon declared that Information Theory was being oversold. “It has perhaps ballooned to an importance beyond its actual accomplishments,” he wrote.

Test Your Abilities: Do you have Shannon-like superpowers? Crack this binary code and tweet your answer to @IVInvents: 01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111.

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IV’s Favorite Inventions: Animatronics

Inventions come in all forms and sizes: microscopic robots that break apart clots in a blood vessel, space shuttles, and agricultural processes. At Intellectual Ventures, we pay homage to many of them. Our hallways are lined with inventions — we have antique typewriters and fire hose nozzles, the evolution of the mouse trap in patent drawings, and a cipher machine. But what’s a dinosaur bust doing in our invention collection?

IV’s Favorite Inventions: Animatronics

Talk to anyone who’s visited our office, and they’ll reference the collection showstopper: a synthetic Tyrannosaurus rex head with an eerily familiar face — it’s one of the T. rex models used in the movie Jurassic Park.

IV’s founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold is the ultimate dinosaur hobbyist — he’s published paleontology research findings, funded fossil excavations, and been on set at Jurassic Park filmings. But the T.rex is more than a memento; it's a symbol of robotic innovation.

Animatronics, a kind of robot, uses mechatronics to create machines that look animated rather than robotic. Powered by pneumatics and in some cases hydraulics or electrical means, animatronics can imitate muscle movements.

These specialized robots date as far back as Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions, but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that Walt Disney popularized animatronics in entertainment.

Disney and his team of Imagineers invented Audio-Animatronics. One of the earliest uses can be seen today in Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room. Audio-Animatronics made its first appearance in film with the two birds Robin and Umbrella in Mary Poppins.

Other silver screen superstars, including Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, put animatronics in the limelight. You’ll notice animatronics taking center stage in classic films such as Jaws, Star Wars, and of course Jurassic Park.

Some Jurassic Park dinosaur creations, including the T. rex, were full-sized dino bots, but because of the cost involved in creating them most animatronics were just the animal’s upper or lower half. The rest was left to another important tech innovation — computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Spielberg combined animatronics with CGI to bring many of his dinosaurs to life. The article “20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Jurassic Park” gives a great example of how CGI and animatronics engineers worked together to create the film’s final T. rex scene. 

With the onset of more cost-effective CGI technology, the film industry abandoned its animatronic creations seemingly overnight. But there are still long-time animatronics fans who believe that, as robotic technology becomes more affordable, robots will make a comeback.

Whether or not animatronics is extinct in Hollywood, robotics is alive and evolving at Intellectual Ventures. Learn how we’re helping a new generation of robot-enthusiasts bring their bot-building ideas to life.

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IV’s Founders and President Applaud TROL Act on Frivolous Demand Letters

In a letter this week to lawmakers in Congress, the founders of Intellectual Ventures strongly endorsed legislation that would penalize those who threaten law-abiding businesses with frivolous and often fraudulent “demand letters” that allege patent infringement.

IV’s Founders and President Applaud TROL Act on Frivolous Demand Letters

“Specious demand letters targeting America’s small businesses are not a naturally occurring feature of a well-functioning marketplace for invention,” wrote IV’s founders and president in support of the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act, a bill authored by Rep. Lee Terry, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

“The TROL Act is a positive step toward ending abusive demand letters,” IV’s founders wrote, calling the measure a “balanced, targeted bill” that would attack an increasingly widespread problem while preserving the ability of legitimate patent owners to communicate lawfully about genuine concerns over infringement.

The bill identifies a list of deceptive and misleading demand-letter practices, and it authorizes the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to seek penalties against those who engage in them. 

IV’s founders also encouraged lawmakers to pursue additional targeted reforms, such as measures to protect small businesses that innocently buy off-the-shelf equipment and use it for its intended purposes.

Click here to read the full letter.

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Russ Merbeth

Russ Merbeth

Russ Merbeth is chief policy counsel for Intellectual Ventures.





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