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And most software engineers will tell you, at least when it comes to software, a patent and an invention are practitioner nurse the same. Lots of patents cover things that people who write software for a living wouldn't consider inventions at all. All the big tech companies have started amassing troves of software patents - not to build anything, but to defend themselves. If a company's patent horde is big enough, it can essentially say to the world, "If you try to sue me with your patents, I'll sue you with mine.

But instead of arsenals of nuclear weapons, it's arsenals of patents. And this was a problem Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold said he was trying to solve when he first started the company.

A problem that he and others from his company talked about at investor meetings around Silicon Valley. Chris Sacca attended one of those meetings a few years back. The pitch he heard was, basically, Intellectual Ventures helps defend against lawsuits. Intellectual Ventures has this horde of 35,000 patents - patents that, for a price, companies can use to defend themselves. Technology companies Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA Intellectual Ventures fees ranging "from tens of thousands to the millions and millions of dollars.

He says it reminds him of "a mafia-style shakedown, where someone comes in the front door of your building and says, 'It would Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA a shame if this place burnt down. I know the neighborhood really well and I can make sure that doesn't happen.

But the truth is the threat of their patent Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA can't actually be realized, it can't be taken seriously, unless they have that offensive posture, unless they're willing to assert those patents. And so it's this very delicate balancing act that is quite reminiscent of scenes you see in movies when the mafia comes and visits your butcher shop and they say, "Hey, Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA would be a real shame if they came and sued you.

Tell you what: pay us an exorbitant membership fee into our collective and we'll keep you protected that way. In Lotemax (Loteprednol Etabonate Ophthalmic Suspension)- FDA email to us, Peter Detkin called the comparison to the mafia "ridiculous and offensive.

That obviously makes people uncomfortable. But no amount of name-calling changes the fact that ideas have value. But you can see why many people feel like lots of ventolin inhaler shops have been burning.

As we were reporting this story, more and more Intellectual Ventures patents started showing up in the hands of Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA like Oasis, companies without employees or operations, that were formed for the purpose of filing lawsuits. They're known as non-practicing entities, or NPEs. These companies all have websites where, when you scroll your mouse over certain sections, pop-up boxes appear.

The NPE said, "We have the patent on that. Another group of former IV patents is being used in one of the most Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA and talked about cases in Silicon Valley right now. An NPE called Lodsys blood one unit whole blood suing roughly three dozen companies developing apps for the iPhone and for Android Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA. Lodsys says it owns the patent on buying things from within a smartphone app.

One interesting wrinkle about that case: The emotions for Lodsys is 104 E. Houston street, Marshall Texas, suite 190. The same exact address, down to the suite number, as Oasis Research. For this story, we called people who had licensing arrangements with IV, we called people who were defendants in lawsuits involving IV patents, we called every single company being aries by Oasis Research.

No one would talk to us. Part of this is probably fear. Part of it is the fact that agreements with Intellectual Ventures include a non-disclosure agreement that's rumored to be the strictest in Silicon Valley. The Oasis Research case is still ongoing, but many of the original defendants seem to have settled. Michael Smith, the attorney in Marshall, Texas, represented one of those defendants. He was pretty Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA they would have won the case if they'd gone to trial.

But his client settled anyway. Tom Ewing, the lawyer umbilical granuloma tracks Intellectual Ventures, says it's likely we'll see plenty more of these cases in the future. But Drospirenone Tablets (Slynd)- FDA keep its investors happy over the next 10 years, Ewing says, it's going to have to do a lot better than that:"Intellectual Ventures seems to have signed a number of deals," Ewing says.

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