A new report out from Reuters says that Intellectual Ventures — the Bellevue-based patent holding firm led by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold — is on the prowl to raise as much as $3 billion in fresh capital.
The 13-year-old firm, the subject of much controversy in the tech industry, including a scathing report by This American Life, also has cooled its patent buying in recent months as it looks to raise the cash.
Reuters cites sources familiar with the firm, as well as other sources in the patent business and an investor presentation.
Intellectual Ventures has amassed about 70,000 patents over the years, and it has become increasingly litigious in recent years, with lawsuits against companies such as Toshiba, Canon, Symantec, AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, as well as banks like Capital One, First National Bank of Omaha and PNC.
The FTC is now investigating patent holding firms, which could spell more trouble for IV’s fundraising efforts.
Reuters reports that Microsoft, an investor in IV’s earlier fund, has not yet committed money to the new fund. But what’s most interesting is Google’s response, which also was an investor in the earlier fund. Google spokesman Matt Kallman tells Reuters.
“We joined Intellectual Ventures’ first fund as a way to defend ourselves against unjustified patent claims. Once we came to understand IV’s operating model, we didn’t join its later funds.”
Ouch. That’s gotta sting. Interestingly, IV has sued Google’s Motorola unit for patent infringement.
According to Reuters, IV’s 2003 fund was showing a return of 16.2 percent, while the 2008 fund showed a return of 2.5 percent. The 2008 fund had a 5-year term on it, and since it has now expired the firm no longer can buy patents through it, Reuters reports.