These Big Companies Invest in Patent Trolls

Nathan Myhrvold’s firm Intellectual Ventures has been called a “patent troll” by those critics who object to his firm’s profiting off patents.  Supporters of his business argue that he and his company are treating patents like any other asset that can be financialized and assembled into a portfolio.  Critics argue that patent trolls hold patents and then enforce them when they feel that the patents have been infringed upon, even though the holder has no intention of making any product using the patent’s contents.  Critics argue that this subverts the purpose of patents (and intellectual property) and essentially acts as a tax on innovation.  Supporters, obviously, view the situation differently: they see patents as assets having inherent value, which value should be exploited by pursuing legal claims in furtherance of that value.

Following is a list of publicly traded companies which are listed as investors in the firm.  (Source document is this court filing; see here for more information about the court filing.)

  1. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN): About the company:  Amazon.com, Inc. is an online retailer that offers a wide range of products.  The Company’s products include books, music, videotapes, computers, electronics, home and garden, and numerous other products.  Amazon offers personalized shopping services, Web-based credit card payment, and directi shipping to customers. Competitors to Watch: eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY), Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSTK), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS), Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST), Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY), OverStock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK), HSN (NASDAQ:HSNI), PC Mall, Inc. (NASDAQ:MALL), Target (NYSE:TGT) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
  2. American Express (NYSE:AXP): About the company:  American Express Company is a global payment and travel company.  The Company’s principal products and services are charge and credit payment card products and travel-related services offered to consumers and businesses around the world. Competitors to Watch:Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS), Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA), Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE:COF), Visa, Inc. (NYSE:V), and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C).
  3. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): About the company:  Apple, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers and related personal computing and mobile communication devices along with a variety of related software, services, peripherals, and networking solutions.  The Company sells its products worldwide through its online stores, its retail stores, its direct sales force, third-party wholesalers, and resellers.
  4. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO): About the company:  Cisco Systems, Inc. supplies data networking products for the Internet.  The Company’s Internet Protocol-based networking solutions are installed at corporations, public institutions and telecommunication companies worldwide.  The Company’s solutions transports data, voice, and video within buildings, across campuses, and around the world.
  5. eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY): About the company:  eBay, Inc. operates an online trading community.  The Company’s service is used by buyers and sellers for the exchange of products and services such as coins, collectibles, computers, memorabilia, stamps and toys, as well as concert and sporting tickets.  eBay also offers, through a subsidiary, secure online payment services.
  6. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG): About the company:  Google Inc. is a global technology company that provides a web based search engine through its website.  The Company offers a wide range of search options, including web, image, groups, directory, and news searches.
  7. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT): About the company:  Microsoft Corporation develops, manufactures, licenses, sells, and supports software products.  The Company offers operating system software, server application software, business and consumer applications software, software development tools, and Internet and intranet software.  Microsoft also develops video game consoles and digital music entertainment devices.
  8. Nokia (NYSE:NOK): About the company:  Nokia Corporaiton is a player in the mobile industry.  The Company makes a range of mobile devices with services and software that enable people to experience music, navigation, video, television, imaging, games, business mobility and more.  Nokia also provides equipment, solutions and services for communications networks.
  9. Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA): About the company:NVIDIA Corporation designs, develops, and markets three dimensional graphcis processors and related software.  The Company’s products provide interactive 3D graphics to the mainstream personal computer market. Competitors to Watch: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE:TXN), Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ:BRCM), QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Silicon Image, Inc. (NASDAQ:SIMG), Pixelworks, Inc. (NASDAQ:PXLW), Marvell Tech. Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL), and ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ:ARMH).
  10. SAP (NYSE:SAP): About the company:  SAP AG is a multinational software company.  The Company develops business software, including e-business and enterprise management software, consults on organizational usage of its applications software, and provides training services.  SAP markets its products and services worldwide.
  11. Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNY): About the company: SONY Corporation manufactures audio, home video game consoles, communications, key devices and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets.  The Company’s other businesses include music, pictures, computer entertainment, and online businesses.
  12. Verizon (NYSE:VZ): About the company:  Verizon Communications Inc. is an integrated telecommunications company that provides wire line voice and data services, wireless services, Internet services, and published directory information.  The Company also provides network services for the federal government including business phone lines, data services, telecommunications equipment and payphones.
  13. Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX): About the company:  Xilinx, Inc. designs, develops, and markets complete programmable logic solutions.  The Company’s solutions include advanced integrated circuits, software design tools, predefined system functions delivered as cores of logic, and field engineering support.  Xilinx sells its products through several channels of distribution to customers in the United States and overseas.
  14. Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO): About the company:  Yahoo! Inc. is a global Internet media company that offers an online guide to Web navigation, aggregated information content, communication services, and commerce.  The Company’s site includes a hierarchical, subject-based directory of Web sites, which enables users to locate and access information and services through hypertext links included in the directory.

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