Sunday, November 16, 2008

Intellectual Ventures and universities

Slashdot discusses deals of Intellectual Ventures with universities:

"Intellectual Ventures (IV) will be setting up shop at the top of a Four Seasons this week as Headline Sponsor of the Ready to Commercialize 2008 conference hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. It's the patent firm's 100th university deal, though some, such as Professor Michael Heller at Colombia University, warn against such deals. '... their individual profit comes at the cost of the public ability to innovate. The university's larger mission is to serve the public interest, and some of these deals work against that public interest.'

One comment in the thread: With laws as outrageously stupid as some of the current patent laws, it's frankly time to start ignoring them.

Some of Heller's comments sound very similar to Lemley's in his SSRN piece on universities as patent trolls. [Lemley in trolls: I argue that Universities should take a broader view of their role in technology transfer. University technology transfer ought to have as its goal maximizing the social impact of technology, not merely maximizing the university's licensing revenue. Lemley, of course, favored patentee in Metabolite, which involved a questionable patent claim by a university researcher.]


***IPFrontline has a post on Article One Partners, LLC (
This seems to be a hybrid of Peer-to-Patent and Bounty Quest: The community members, or Advisors as Article One calls them, have an opportunity to send in previously hard to find evidence of validity for high profile patents.

Of Bounty Quest, see IPBiz post: [One-time startup Bounty-Quest set out in 2000 with such a mission. It wanted to debunk questionable patents by letting interested parties offer rewards of $10,000 or more for hard-to-find prior art. But there were few takers, and the business failed.]


Of the comment below:

Article One has a different business model than BountyQuest. Article One does not rely on third parties to list requests for prior art. Rather, we select our patents of interest. This provides a continuous and consistent number of Patent Studies.

one notes that IPBiz said: a hybrid of Peer-to-Patent and Bounty Quest.

Peer-to-patent selects patent (applications) for review [based on applications provided by applicants in the program] and third parties provide prior art/comments on the selected patents. Peer-to-patent has a continuous and "consistent" number of comments from third parties. Separately, whether the distinction offered by the commenter is meaningful remains to be seen, as the patents selected in Bounty Quest were neither obscure nor of low interest, and Bounty Quest did fail.

-->AP wrote-->

Article One Partners, which launches Monday, hopes to use the Internet to create a global community of experts to review patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The idea is to tap the wisdom of the online masses to unearth "prior art" — evidence that an invention is not novel and therefore doesn't deserve a patent — that the Patent Office may not have known about when it approved the application.

To encourage people to take part, the company is offering both a profit-sharing program as well as payments of up to $50,000 to anyone who uncovers evidence that could be used to invalidate a patent. Article One Partners hopes to make money by selling the information it gathers to interested parties — often those involved in infringement suits — and by making market trades based on the information.

***The patenthawk blog has a piece critical of Article One:

Article One Partners is a patent bounty hunter system, paying $50,000 for invalidating prior art on big-money patents presently enforced. What's behind it?

Front running is an illegal practice for stock brokers, of trading on proprietary information prior to releasing that information to clients. But is front running illegitimate for those not licensed or registered to trade? At least someone is betting not.

Imagine a hedge fund that fronts a site, paying to have patents invalidated. Patents crucial to a company. Patents that, if invalidated, would cause the company's stock price to swoon. Imagine having that information ahead of the market, and shorting the stock before releasing the information. Front running. An injection of smart money before the dumb money weighs in.

Forbes on Article One

In "Facebook for Patent Trolls", one has:

Another hurdle: protecting ArticleOne from charges of market manipulation. Milone says that when ArticleOne takes prior-art knowledge to the stock exchange, it may very well wait to alert the public to its discovery. "That makes sense from a business perspective but gives me qualms from a legal point of view," says Alan Bromberg, a securities law professor at Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law. "Any short sale is subject to criticism these days."

Peter Henning, who lectures on white-collar crime at Wayne State University Law School, says that taking a position on a company before making public comments about litigation it may face "takes you close to market manipulation."


A comment by Cheryl Milone to a post on PLI has the following text:

I respectfully comment on your statement about the history of Article One’s approach. There are two examples of this research approach for prior art. The first was BountyQuest in 2000, I was fortunate to be an employee in that venture. The company ultimately did not succeed, primarily due the 2001 collapse and 9-11, 2001 and the ensuing economic contraction. However, the research was explicitly proven. Here is a link to their results and an identification of the winners who were compensated for their prior art submissions.

A second successful endeavor in this area is which requests prior art for pending U.S. patent applications as an academic initiative fully endorsed by the U.S. Patent Office. It has played a key role in providing prior art to the Patent Office thereafter relied upon in the examination of the pending applications. Article One provides profit sharing for our Advisors who contribute prior art to

More broadly, we know the power of crowd sourcing based on the highly successful,, LinkedIn, Facebook and even YouTube. A more focused analysis of pull research technology is provided in the following book: “Crowd Sourcing” Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business, by Jeff Howeand “Mavericks at Work,” by W. Taylor and P. Labarre, a NY Times and W.S.J. bestseller. I recommend these to your readers. joins to provide much needed prior art. Both endeavors provide the public with the opportunity to weigh in on the grant of patent rights to which the public is subjected, both by premium monopoly pricing and societal litigation costs. Better prior art information reduces patent litigation and improves our system. Your focus Gene was on 100 patents, Article One is starting with a projected 80 Studies the first year. In one week, we have received over 75 prior art submissions from our users. We want the readers to know that there is ample precedent for success here.


Blogger Adeac said...

As an employee of Article One Partners, I would like to clarify a statement in your article. Article One has a different business model than BountyQuest. Article One does not rely on third parties to list requests for prior art. Rather, we select our patents of interest. This provides a continuous and consistent number of Patent Studies.

I would be happy to provide you with more information about our company.

Regards, Frances Weber, Article One Partners, LLC

6:06 AM  

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