By Dan Levine
Feb 13 Privately held patent owner Intellectual
Ventures said on Thursday it has cut about 5 percent of its
global workforce and "consolidated positions" in a corporate
Since its founding in 2000, IV has raised more than $6
billion from investors and has bought tens of thousands of
intellectual property assets from a variety of sources. IV then
strikes licensing deals or sues companies in the hopes of
However, investment returns from IV's different funds have
been mixed. The multi-billion dollar fund IV launched in 2008
generated returns of 2.5 percent for investors through the end
of 2012, Reuters reported last October.
"This restructure is a combination of head count and
operational improvements," spokeswoman Katherine Clouse said in
a statement on Thursday. "We have eliminated approximately five
percent of our global workforce and consolidated other positions
elsewhere in the company."
IV has over 800 employees, according to its website, so a
five percent reduction would impact at least 40 people. The bulk
of the staff cuts involved attorneys and engineers who worked
for IV's large patent acquisition funds, three sources familiar
with the company said.
IV also runs a laboratory which pursues inventions that the
company itself can patent. That part of the business was not
impacted by the job cuts, the sources said. Clouse declined to
provide additional detail about the reductions.
Large IV investors have included Apple and
Microsoft, where IV founder Nathan Myhrvold was once
chief technology officer under Bill Gates.
IV's acquisition and licensing funds have faced criticism
from some in the technology industry, who argue that patent
litigation and royalty payments have become a burdensome tax on
innovation. They say firms like IV, which do not primarily make
products, are exploiting the patent system.
But IV argues that unlike some of the firms denounced as
"patent trolls," it invests only in quality intellectual
property and does not file frivolous lawsuits. IV also says it
helps inventors get paid for their innovations while helping
tech companies protect and manage their intellectual property.
Last month, IV embarked on the first trial in its history in
a Delaware federal court, against Google's Motorola Mobility
unit. IV claimed Motorola violated three of its patents, but a
jury could not unanimously agree and U.S. District Judge Sue
Robinson declared a mistrial.
Google was an investor in IV's first patent acquisition
fund, but did not participate in later vehicles.