Patent troll king Intellectual Ventures is notorious not only for its size but also for the invisible way it stalks its victims. That could change, however, thanks to a crowd-sourced project that will identify the shell companies that IV uses as tentacles.
For the unfamiliar, IV is the dark empire of Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft (s msft) executive who gamed the patent system by amassing tens of thousands of often-flimsy patents and then threatening to sue everyone in sight. IV and other trolls have reportedly drained $500 billion from the economy and created widespread disenchantment with America’s patent policies.
While IV has been at this for years, its activities are often undetected thanks to a clever use of a reported 1,300 shell companies. This means that the start-ups and tech companies who receive “pay-up-or-else” letters for using things like emoticons are confronted by patent owners with futuristic names…
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