Nathan Myhrvold, left, interviewed by the UW’s Hanson Hosein

Intellectual Ventures is no stranger to controversy, with the Bellevue patent holding firm routinely taking heat in the media (including the comment threads of GeekWire).

Now a Berkeley patent analytics firm is looking to do something about Intellectual Ventures’ growing power in the patent world, and it is taking an unconventional approach to expose the inner workings of the mysterious company led by CTO Nathan Myhrvold.

IP Checkups launched a crowd funding effort on Indiegogo last month to create a publicly-accessible database of patents owned by Intellectual Ventures and its shell companies. (Estimated to be in the range of 40,000 patents).

We will unravel the complex web of Intellectual Ventures’ shell companies and financial interests to see where Intellectual Ventures is holding its IP assets.

In a press release announcing the campaign, IP Checkups founder Matt Rappaport noted that the patent system was initially designed to make information about new innovations more accessible to the general public.  “When you hide patent ownership through obscure shell companies as Intellectual Ventures does, you negate the entire purpose of the patent system – the development of an open marketplace of ideas,” he added.

Sounds like a unique effort, huh?

Well, it’s unlikely to happen since, as of 10:15 p.m., the Indiegogo campaign for the IV Thicket Case File was still roughly $66,000 short of its $80,000 goal (with just a few hours to go). Looks like we might have to wait a bit longer to get an inside look at what Intellectual Ventures is patenting.

UPDATE: IP Checkups missed its goal, and we’ve reached out to the firm to find out what they plan to do next.

UPDATE II: Here’s what Intellectual Ventures had to say when asked about the crowdfunding campaign.

IV’s patent holdings have been the source of fascination for many years. We and many other patent holders believe that patents should be respected regardless of who owns them. Those interested in viewing granted patents and patent applications can search the USPTO’s public database. Ultimately, we hope to see the day when invention rights are respected whether they are owned by individuals, universities, Fortune 500 companies, start-ups or invention investment firms like Intellectual Ventures.

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