Recently, the federal government has turned its attention to the issue of patent litigation. Senators from both sides of the aisle have called for patent reform, and even state attorneys general have taken a tough stance on so-called “patent trolls.”
All of this scrutiny, it seems, has caught the attention of Intellectual Ventures, which has considerably ramped up the amount of money it spent on lobbying. According to a report filed with the U.S. Senate, the company, one of the largest patent acquisition firms in the U.S., has nearly doubled its federal lobbying budget. The firm spent $310,000 on federal lobbying between July 1 and Sept. 30, up from $165,000 in the prior three-month period.
The uptick in spend coincides with Intellectual Venture’s new lobbying strategy. The firm hired Russell Merbeth, a former telecom lobbyist, to run its new in-house lobbying operation. Merbeth tells USA Today that Intellectual Ventures is concerned with educating lawmakers on what the company does and ensuring that “the patent system is not weakened as a result of any of the actions or activities undertaken by the executive branch or Congress.”
Intellectual Ventures, of course, does not see itself as a patent troll. Its primary business is the buying, selling and licensing of patents, though it has been involved in patent infringement suits with some large corporations.
In addition to state attorneys general and Congress, pressure to reform patent laws has increased from other angles. Next year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases that will directly address patent litigation, and several high-profile companies, including Facebook and Ford, have increased their own lobbying to try and decrease patent lawsuits.