Intellectual Ventures gets investment from Microsoft while Apple stays away

Nathan Myhrvold

Nathan Myhrvold

Microsoft — but not Apple — has agreed to invest in Intellectual Ventures (IV), the patent holding firm and technology company run by former Microsoft technology chief Nathan Myhrvold.

Reuters reported this morning that IV will receive funding from Microsoft and Sony for a new acquisition fund. Meanwhile, Apple and Intel — both of which had invested in IV in the past — declined to participate.

Bellevue-based IV is raising $3 billion in fresh capital, as reported this past October, and Reuters notes that the company is starting to acquire more patents after slowing down last year while it sought investment money.

Intellectual-VenturesToday’s news comes at a time when IV and other technology patent firms face increasing scrutiny of their business models, and the Supreme Court considers a case that could significantly alter the landscape for software patents. The main issue at hand is whether or not companies like IV hurt or help innovation with its business practices.

Related: White House moves forward with plan for patent reform

Interestingly, Google — which previously invested in IV’s earlier fund — explained in October why it decided to stop giving money to the company.

“We joined Intellectual Ventures’ first fund as a way to defend ourselves against unjustified patent claims,” Google spokesman Matt Kallman told Reuters. “Once we came to understand IV’s operating model, we didn’t join its later funds.”

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 ToshibaCanonSymantecAT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, as well as banks like Capital OneFirst National Bank of Omaha and PNC.

The company recently submitted a filing with the U.S. Federal Election Commission indicating that the patent holding company intends to start a political action committee. IV also laid off 5 percent of its workforce in February.