An intriguing intellectual property reality check
Nathan Myhrvold wants to shake up the marketplace for ideas. His mission and the activities of the Bellevue company he heads, Intellectual Ventures, a secretive $5 billion investment firm that has scooped up 30,000 patents, inspire admiration and angst.
Admirers of Myhrvold, the scientist who led Microsoft's technology development in the 1990s, see an innovator seeking to elevate the economic role and financial rewards for inventors whose patented ideas are often used without compensation by big technology companies.
His detractors see a cynical operator deploying his bulging patent trove as a powerful bargaining chip, along with the implied threat of costly litigation, to prod high-tech companies to pay him lucrative fees. They call his company "Intellectual Vultures."