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Nathan Myhrvold

Bellevue-based Intellectual Ventures, the patent holding company and invention house run by former Microsoft technology chief Nathan Myhrvold, confirmed today that it once owned the patent at the center of a controversy over in-app purchasing in third-party iOS applications.

To be clear, that would be past tense. A spokeswoman for the company tells GeekWire that IV sold the patent and has no ownership interest in Lodsys LLC, the company that sent cease-and-desist letters to a series of iOS developers last week.

As part of an extensive FAQ on its site today, Lodsys explained the chain of ownership and said neither inventor Dan Abelow nor Intellectual Ventures “has any investment, control, or knowledge of the specific licensing activities, including who is licensed (except for what is publicly disclosed, or happened on licensing activity prior to Lodsys).”

The patent in question: 7,222,078: “Methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network.”

Intellectual Ventures’ large patent holdings have made Myhrvold a lightning rod for critics. He explained his approach, disputed claims of patent trolling and explained his broader vision in a Harvard Business Review article earlier this year.

Photo by Red Maxwell, via Flickr

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