Photo: Colbert Report
Yesterday, gigantic patent troll Intellectual Ventures sued Motorola for patent infringement over Android.Google is in the process of buying Motorola in part to provide patent protection for Android. Ironically, Google is also an investor in Intellectual Ventures.
So in some sense, Google just sued itself.
But it’s not quite so simple.
As Florian Mueller explains on his blog, which tracks patent issues in the mobile space, Intellectual Ventures actually operates as a group of investment funds.
Google invested in something called Defendant Invention Investment Fund I.
Motorola is being sued by Intellectual Ventures Fund I and Fund II.
So who are the investors in those funds?
Not surprisingly, the names include Microsoft (Fund I), Apple (Fund II), and Nokia (both). Microsoft and Apple have already sued Motorola, and Nokia and Apple settled a conflict over patents earlier this year.
Other tech firms invested are Sony (both) Cisco (Fund II) and Verizon (Fund II).
The rest of the investors are more typical of the limited partners who might invest in a venture fund — banks, universities, wealthy individuals, and foundations.
There’s no reason to believe that investors are involved in the day to day decision-making at Intellectual Ventures.
But even so, Google must be feeling pretty burned right now for having put any money into the company.
Then again, maybe that investment was the only way Google could avoid patent lawsuits over other technology it uses.
The list of Intellectual Ventures investors came out in a court filing earlier this year and was helpfully published by Intellectual Asset Magazine.