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Nathan Myhrvold

Intellectual Ventures, the patent holding firm operated by former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, has filed a lawsuit against AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile alleging patent infringement.

“The wireless communications networks of AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile use a variety of important technologies covered by Intellectual Ventures’ patents,” said Intellectual Ventures’ Chief Litigation Counsel Melissa Finocchio in a statement. “We previously attempted to discuss licensing options with each of these companies, but none were responsive. We filed a complaint for infringement today in the U.S. District Court of Delaware to get these three companies on a course toward compensating IV for the value of the inventions they use in delivering their wireless services.”

The suit is the latest by Intellectual Ventures, signaling a more aggressive litigation stance by a firm that has been widely criticized for hoarding patents and using them as a weapon against companies. (The tactics were the subject of an in-depth piece on “This American Life” last year).

Intellectual Ventures says that it is helping individual inventors monetize their work, paying out some $400 million to inventors. The firm now holds 35,000 patents, more than 3,000 of which were conceived by its own staff of engineering and scientists.

Last October, the company filed a patent infringement claim against Nikon. It also has filed suit against companies including Symantec, Trend Micro, Dell, HP and Motorola.

In the latest suit, Intellectual Ventures is taking aim at three of the four largest wireless companies in the U.S. (Noticeably absent is Verizon). It alleges more than a dozen patent infringements, including those related to “transmission of multimedia messages between mobile station terminals;” “system and method for blocking the use of service in a telecommunication system;” and “directory assistance call completion via mobile systems.”

Here’s a copy of the suit:

IV Complaint

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