Silicon Valley's Most Hated Patent Troll Stops Suing and Starts Making

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Founded in 2000, IV has earned a special brand of hatred in the business world as the ultimate patent troll. It doesn’t delay your flight like United, buffer your movie stream like Comcast, or shellac your shrimp with oil like BP. Rather, it hoards ideas. Over the past 14 years, IV has bought tens of thousands of patents and hired teams of scientists and lawyers to brainstorm and file for thousands more. It then wields this intellectual-property portfolio—the world’s largest—like a weapon. Companies can either pay up or face a lawsuit.

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Having earned billions in payouts from powerful technology companies, IV is setting out to build things on its own. Rather than keeping its IP under lock and key, the company is looking to see if its ideas can be turned into products and the basis for new companies. The first wave of products includes an ultra-efficient nuclear reactor, a waterless washing machine, self-healing concrete, and a giant squeegee for sucking up oil spills. One country has asked IV to help lower its temperature, and another wants it to create robots that can replace migrant workers.

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