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Inside Intellectual Ventures' patent factory (pictures)

CNET goes inside Intellectual Ventures, the controversial company that's in the business of patents and other intellectual property, including laser-guided mosquito killers.

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Josh Lowensohn
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1 of 32 Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Into the labs

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The creation arm of Intellectual Ventures is its network of laboratories. Located a short drive from the company's corporate headquarters are a series of buildings where the company is at work on things it hopes to patent. These range from mosquito-killing lasers, to contraptions that keep vaccines cold for months at a time. Click through for a peek at the lab facilities and the few lab efforts under way that the company lets outsiders see.

Seen here, a human skeleton wearing an IV lab coat with an "intern" badge.

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The laser mosquito killer

If you think this contraption looks like a projector, you'd be right. The thing is, it's projecting death. For mosquitos, that is. The technology, which has been public for years but has yet to be introduced in any commercial application, identifies female mosquitos and shoots them dead with a laser beam. The technology was developed to combat malaria, though the company says it's working to tweak it to identify other types of harmful insects.

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Farm-raised mosquitos

To help demo its murderous laser technology, IV has to raise its own mosquitos in-house. Of note, the mosquitos in this cage aren't killed in the demos. IV shows it off by using a non-lethal green laser.

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Blue checkerboards

Inside one of the company's work areas. Every lab room has the same blue and white checkerboard tiles.

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Lots of parts

Boxes of parts, and projects-in-progress lay around one of the lab rooms.

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Gadgets o plenty

This room is piled nearly to the ceiling with instruments, some new but many old. The company likes to buy older electronic equipment since it's usually at a steep discount.

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In wait

More equipment sits, though this is only part of it. The company has a separate warehouse facility where it keeps what it can't fit in the labs.

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Microscope room

IV has a handful of rooms just for microscopes. This one was used as part of the company's efforts to research malaria.

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Analyzing malaria with servers

Inside one of IV's lab buildings is a supercomputer with more than 100 servers. The company uses part of the processing power for computational research on malaria.

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Lots of juice

Running that many servers ain't cheap. The company said it typically has monthly power bill that's in the low five figures.

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Dangling plugs

Servers aren't the only things that need plugging in. Throughout its labs, the company has hanging plugs for power, Ethernet, and other networked cabling.

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Missing a cord?

To keep cords from getting wildly tangled, the company keeps cables of all types hanging from wall racks.

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Cheeky box art

Spotted on one box, a reminder not to take any tools from within.

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Meet you at...wait, lemme get my calculator

One of the lab's wall clocks is a bit unusual, requiring readers to do some math to get the time.

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A bathroom ode to history

Like most businesses, IV names its buildings and rooms after things. That trickles down to bathrooms as well. In this case, it's the "Thomas Crapper Memorial Bathroom." While an inventor, Crapper was not the inventor of the toilet.

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Malaria-spotting microscope

IV's specialty microscope was designed to spot hemozoin -- a waste product that blood-feeding parasites leave behind. That includes malaria, which this invention was designed to spot more quickly and cheaply without the use of sending samples to a lab.

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Cold Chain vaccine cooler

This isn't a high-tech milk jug, but it's a distant cousin. Currently known as Project Cold Chain, this cooler technology has been designed to keep vaccines cold for months at a time, allowing them to be sent out to remote parts of the world that may not have the facilities for a dedicated refrigeration system.

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A code name for now

Project Cold Chain may not be the final name, the company says. Nonetheless, prototype units are labeled with the moniker and the company's name.

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Brainstorming headquarters

When the company wants to think up new things, it has brainstorming sessions. It will pull together people from various disciplines, effectively lock them in this room for the day, and try to come up with answers.

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The shop

The company's primary labs facility is host to a colorful assortment of machines, from 3D printers to water blade aluminum cutters. Seen here are some of the machining tools.

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Inside the machining area

Just one of the machines among those in the machining section of IV's lab.

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IV Corporate headquarters

The outside of the company's headquarters near Seattle in Bellevue, Wash., is rather nondescript.

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No logo

With no big sign, the only indicator this is where IV's top brass works is the small placard underneath the building identifier.

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The first thing you see

The first thing you see walking into the headquarters is a giant T-Rex head with its mouth wide open. In fact, this is the same one from Jurassic Park, something company co-founder Nathan Myhrvold acquired and brought in to have mounted on the wall.

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The T-Rex view

The T-Rex looks out into the rest of the lobby, which is adorned with one of the many photos Myhrvold has taken.

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And a raptor too

The T-Rex isn't the only dinosaur you'll find. In another part of a building, this velociraptor greets you right outside a bank of elevators.

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Dinosaur leg

Dinosaur props are joined by real dinosaur bits. In this case, a fossilized leg.

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More fossils

Mere feet away from the prop T-Rex head are more dinosaur fossils.

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Antique typewriters

IV keeps shelves full of antique typewriters in its entry lobby, an homage to earlier gadgetry and the change of technology.

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More clocks

Yet another company clock that isn't quite the norm, right down to the gears underneath.

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Codebreakers

Antique code breakers sit behind glass in the IV lobby.

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More relics

Additional antiques in the IV lobby.

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