Transmeta IP sold to not-patent troll
Myhrvold expands collection
Transmeta - the low-power chip supplier that tried to make netbook silicon before there was a market for netbooks - is officially dead and picked apart. The company's $255m acquisition by Novafora closed late last week and a good chunk of the its patent portfolio jumped to the IP licensing firm, Intellectual Ventures.
IV said it grabbed 140 US patents and "a substantial number" of pending patent applications issued in the US and abroad. The firm intends to license the technology to other vendors on non-exclusive terms. IV is run by former Microsoft chief technology officer-turned-IP collector, Nathan Myhrvold. It claims to have more than 2,000 patents in the semiconductor field.
Now certainly the reader is expecting to see the label "patent troll" applied here. We hesitate only on the basis that IV hasn't yet filed a single infringement lawsuit. Maybe you can swing a club and live under a bridge and still be a respectable fellow. Maybe. They've even gone out of their way to claim they aren't trolls (PDF). But we've got our eyes on you, IV.
Transmeta launched 2000 with lofty promises to radically change the market for low-power chips for mini notebooks. Alas, the whole thing was bungled despite raising millions in pre-bubble-bursted dot com venture capital and getting floods of media coverage. It gave up manufacturing in 2005 to concentrate on licensing its intellectual property to other chip makers – but obviously that didn't work out too well either.
Novafora, a venture capital-backed "video processor" firm, announced, it would buy Transmeta back in November.
According to the IP hand off announcement, the former Transmeta technology will take two routes. Novafora will use the patents it kept to improve its own proprietary designs, and IV will license its portion out, naturally. ®
Probably not troll
If they're licensing patents or using them for in-house projects, that's a legitimate use of the patent system. If their business model is entirely comprised of licensing patents at extortionate rates /after/ suing for infringement, they're a troll. It's not entirely clear what they're doing with IP yet, but since we haven't heard of lawsuits, they're probably not trolls.
someone tell me
Why would Intel or AMD NOT have snapped up this company for what amounts to executive lunch money? Just to get the patents and ideas in their fold with their other processor IP. Was someone asleep at the switch? They aren't making truckloads or money right now, I know; but still, this was too good to pass up if you're looking to grow your market.
Somebody had a bad case of the stupids.
Would you trust someone named Nathan Myhrvold?
A trollish name if I ever saw one... and he's a former MSoftie, so well attuned to the ways of evil.