Intellectual Ventures founder steps down: “market is tough right now”

Peter Detkin, a lawyer and former Intel executive, is standing down as vice chairman from the notorious patent trolling venture he co-founded alongside three others, including one-time Microsoft exec Nathan Myhrvold, in 2000.

As IAM Magazine reports, Detkin will quit his post at Intellectual Ventures as of January 1, 2015, but will stay involved in the company’s decision making process. Detkin also denied the existence of rifts within IV following a rough year for the company:

However, Detkin stated categorically that his decision was not prompted by a falling out with the other IV founders or any worries about the firm’s future. “I am in it for the long term and have complete faith in our business model – which is needed and promotes investment in innovation. The market is tough right now, but I believe that the pendulum will swing back,” he said.

Detkin’s departure comes after a year in which IV had to lay off a significant portion of its workforce, and after the company struggled to raise money for its newest patent fund, in part because Apple and other one-time investors refused to participate in the fund.

More broadly, Intellectual Ventures and Detkin himself remain unpopular due to the company’s controversial business model, which entails arming thousands of shell companies with old patents in order to demand licensing payments from productive businesses.

While Intellectual Ventures initially earned buzz over the prospect of using patents to crowdsource genius, the company’s tactics quickly came to be perceived by many as a form of legal extortion that harmed innovation. Detkin himself figured prominently in a widely-publicized This American Life documentary called “When Patents Attack” that helped bring the problem of patent trolls to mainstream attention.

In response to a request for details about Detkin’s departure, an Intellectual Ventures spokesperson said the company had nothing to add.

In recent months, Intellectual Ventures has set its sites on emerging tech areas like wearable computers, even as Republicans in Congress vow to revive a patent reform bill that nearly passed in the spring, but was derailed by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nv) at the behest of patent trolls and trial lawyers.