Indian individual inventors and research organizations are turning their patents into liquid with the entry of firms like Intellectual Ventures into Indian markets. The investment fund, founded by Microsoft’s former chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, has raised capital from individual investors and large companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Verizon, Sony and Apple. The $5 billion company reportedly planned in 2008 to spend $100 million to buy or license patents across Asia.”We believe that over the next 10-20 years, institutes in India could make around $1 billion a year if they can market their inventions,”said Myhrvold.
Intellectual Ventures has formed similar partnerships with other institutes in India, as well as in China, Japan, Korea, and soon, Singapore-but it fits into the broader strategy of fostering invention around the world. With collaborations with over 500 inventors around the world, Intellectual Ventures files over thousands of patent applications a year in more than 30 technology areas. The reception Intellectual Ventures is getting also reminds me of Microsoft Research. While most university officials see the partnerships as benefiting their researchers and increasing the flow of innovation, critics have rolled out the standard”patent troll” fears that the company is coming in to buy up all the best intellectual property-which will only be assuaged by years of relationship building and repeatedly demonstrating that these sorts of deals can benefit both sides.
Gibson, who also handles Intellectual Ventures’ marketing and public relations in Asia, shed more light on the significance of the deal as well. “IIT-B is one of roughly 10 schools in India we are now working with. However IIT-B is one of the premier universities in India-one of the original IITs, so it is a little like working with, say, a Harvard or Stanford for us,” he said. “We were excited and proud to make the announcement.”(IIT-Bombay is known for its strength in electronics, software, chemistry, and materials, among other areas.)
Full financial terms of the partnership weren’t disclosed. But Gibson says, “The arrangement is for the university…to send us invention disclosures from time to time as well as allow us to directly work with professors we have identified to partner on brand new inventions… The arrangement is not exclusive and the university is free to pick and choose which inventions it gives to us and which it doesn’t.