Confirmed: IP firms owns smartphone patent
A new patent that could broadly impact smartphones with motion control is owned by an "invention capital firm" or "patent troll," depending on your view.
Patent No. 7,679,604--"Method and apparatus for controlling a computer system"--the broad motion-control patent I've been writing about this week, has passed through a number of hands over the years.
First assigned to ArrayComm in 2006, it was subsequently handed over to Durham Logistics, a limited liability company which is itself managed by another obscure Las Vegas LLC called Memscom. But there's one more company at the end of that oblique line of ownership: Intellectual Ventures, an "invention capital firm" or patent troll, depending on your views on innovation and intellectual property.
Over the past few days, multiple sources with knowledge of the patent have told me it's owned by Intellectual Ventures. And now Intellectual Ventures has confirmed to me that this is indeed the case. It operates Memscom LLC, which operates Durham Logistics LLC, and through them owns patent No. 7,679,604.
According to intellectual property consulting firm Avancept, Intellectual Ventures is linked to some 1,110 shell companies and affiliated entities. Evidently, Memscom and Durham Logistics are two of them.
And patent No. 7,679,604 is just one of many that Intellectual Ventures owns through that pair of LLCs. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists 29 patents and patent applications assigned to Durham Logistics, all of them first developed by ArrayComm. Among them, No. 6,834,249, a motion control patent nearly identical to No. 7,679,604 that was granted in 2004 after a 2001 application and would seem to predate many of the motion-sensing smartphones currently on the market.
What does Intellectual Ventures intend to do with these patents? Seek licensing deals for them, of course. Said an Intellectual Ventures representative: "We don't currently have specific plans to announce regarding any asset(s) in particular, but we are actively talking with customers about licensing our invention portfolio on fair and reasonable terms."