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Patent-holding firm's lawsuit against Googorola kicks off

Intellectual Ventures: 'Won't somebody please think about the inventors!'

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Patent-holding firm Intellectual Ventures kicked off its lawsuit against Googorola yesterday, in a case of tech giant versus the "we're-not-a-patent-troll" IP licensing firm.

The company set up by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold is suing Google's Motorola division over three patents it holds which cover mobile phone and software technologies, including Google Play.

Googorola, meanwhile, has argued that the patents Intellectual Ventures is citing are invalid because the technology is widely known in the industry and claims the firm solely exists to sue folks over intellectual property instead of using its patents to innovate.

So-called patent trolls are companies who buy up intellectual property solely so they can sue companies for licensing fees. The patents they assert are frequently on shaky ground, but companies often end up paying because the cost of fighting the assertion is more than the licence.

Intellectual Ventures says that it's not a patent troll because it wants to invest in real, quality intellectual property and doesn't file unnecessary lawsuits just to scare firms into paying licensing fees.

According to a Reuters report, Motorola's attorney William Boice made much of Intellectual Ventures' status as a patent-holding firm in opening statements today, playing a recording of Neil Armstrong's "one small step for man" quote and saying:

There's no building at Intellectual Ventures. They are in the business of bringing lawsuits.

Elizabeth Day, attorney for the other side, urged the jury to think about the inventors behind the patents the company was asserting. She told them about Rajendra Kumar who was behind the patent on a portable computing device with a detectable handset in 2006, which Intellectual Ventures bought in 2011.

"Motorola will try to tell you the man who loved to invent didn't invent anything," she said.

The case is being watched closely by the patent market as it could influence Congress' patent reforms by showing the government what the public think about intellectual property. Google has been supporting the side that wants the government to issue fewer software patents and make it easier to sort out lawsuits. A win in this lawsuit could strengthen its case. ®

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