From the monthly archives:

February 2010

Economist Article on IV

by Andrew Watson on 24 February 2010

I see that the Economist online are running an article titled Brilliant Inventor or Patent Troll about Nathan and IV at

A view. To try to make this simple to understand.

To call Nathan or IV a troll is incredibly simplistic.

IV has built one of the Worlds most sophisticated businesses and it has the potential to have substantial direct and indirect returns for its shareholders. IVs people are amongst the brightest IP and business minds you could wish to find anywhere. And what they have done is combine lots of the smartest and newest ways of creating value from IP into the same entity in a patent and IP play on an absolutely massive scale.

 They are an invention house, and have adopted and reinvented leading edge patent strategies to create a portfolio of their own IP which, in its own, would be of high high worth.

 In combination they have acquired patents, hard to say how many as they are very private, but lots of patents on an unprecedented scale. Some say they have 30,000 patent families, but it is impossible to know exactly how many. What is believed though is that this number puts them in the Premier league (up there with IBM, Nokia, Qualcomm and others) in terms of IP influence. The buying has not come cheap but they’ve worked hard on starting with buying anything to moving to buying quality.

 And along the way they’ve worked hard on their IP reputation. Ask people who know anything and they’d say that if IV breathes in your direction, take a license. Perfect in the US world of IP where licenses are cheaper than litigation so companies like Acacia Research, a genuine troll, can prosper. But they don’t want to see seen to be litigators…that’s bad for reputation so they outsource that part to others who aren’t so bothered about what the outside world thinks of them.

 This is IP genius on a scale never seen before and which would be hard to come close to replicating again in a generation given what IV has successfully done. If you imagine or remember one of those days when the idea you had could change the world. Amazingly though almost nobody outside of the IP community and largely outside of the US has a clue that this is going on. Which it has been for 10 years.

The full impact of this is to be seen. What Nathan though appears to realise in his public statements is that all things intangible make up a large and unexplained part of shareholder value. The accountants don’t explain it, shareholders don’t ask about it, most business leaders don’t understand it. It still amazes me that people don’t even ask! IV is playing an arbitrage game; it knows what is valuable and it knows the value to it of what its buying. The sellers do not.

 This is grand and to be complimented. It will be hugely successful.



ipVA updates, OBEs and upcoming events

by Andrew Watson on 18 February 2010

I realise that things have been a bit quiet on the blog, but behind the scenes we’ve been very busy since the start of the year. First, I’d like to congratulate Mike Barlow, who was awarded an OBE for services in IP – quite an accomplishment!  I’d also like to welcome Martin Howard on board to ipVA as a consultant in building international licensing businesses. Martin spent a number of years at BP on their licensing business, and it’s really exciting to have access to this kind of experience. 2010 is shaping up to be an interesting year!

Second, we’ve also added Patentopolis to our partners section.  This is a pretty cool facilitated strategy game where you play head-to-head against other players with various IP rights.  They do a whole lot of customisation for the game to make it fit your business, and it’s a pretty fun way to spend an afternoon or a whole day learning about IP. This game is worth a post in itself, so I’ll not say too much more about it.

We’ve also got some speaking slots at conferences coming up:

We’ll also be doing a new series of webinars with the European Venture Capital Association following on from our webinar last September on IP due diligence. Catch us at any of these events for a coffee or a chat.