Robin Feldman and Tom Ewing have written an amazing article, “The Giants Among Us” about IV and its ilk that will take some time to digest and appreciate fully. Some highlights for me:
1. IV has at least 1276 operating Shell companies
2. IV may have 60,000 patents worldwide.
The article provides disturbing aspects about these “mass aggregators” including:
“To put it bluntly, the successful aggregator is likely the one that frightens the greatest number of companies in the most terrifying way. In fact, a potentially successful approach might be to use a large number of patents of questionable value acquired cheaply and mixed in with a handful of strong ones. When the aggregator knocks on the door, manufacturers may capitulate simply
because the aggregator is the biggest, baddest guy on the block. This may not be the type of market that society wishes to encourage. At the very least, society might want to curtail certain behaviors, if not forbid them altogether. How can one do this, however, without causing even greater harms to the innovation system? How does one water the garden so that only the beneficial plants grow while the weeds whither?”
“Thus, while aggregators may defend their activities on the grounds that they are promoting innovation and the great rewards that society will receive through new products, the reality may be that many fewer inventions ever become products and many more will be placed on a greatly extended trajectory. For inventors who hope that that mass aggregators will turn their patents into
real products and the world will finally appreciate their innovations, the scenario is somewhat reminiscent of an old Twilight zone episode entitled, “To Serve Man.” In the episode, friendly aliens arrive and offer humanity a panacea from all the woes that beset it. The aliens even take some lucky humans back to their home planet who are so happy that they never return. Only later does humanity discover that the aliens’ book “To Serve Man” is not a gospel of benevolent duty, but a cookbook.”
Thought provoking indeed. Has IV become the new Borg, assimilating all in its path?
Read it and weep: