Vringo merges with owner of Lycos patents to boost IP portfolio; CEO steps down

Vringo merges with owner of Lycos patents to boost IP portfolio; CEO steps down

Video ringtones and mobile applications development company Vringo, listed on NASDAQ, is merging with Innovate/Protect to grow its intellectual property portfolio.

This isn’t exactly good news, but we’ll get to that later.

Vringo president Andrew Perlman has been named CEO, replacing Jonathan Medved, who is stepping down. Here’s how the company pitches the merger:

Through the strategic combination with Innovate/Protect, Vringo will substantially increase its intellectual property portfolio, add significant talent in technological innovation, and be positioned to enhance its opportunities for revenue generation through the monetization of the combined company’s assets.

The real reason is that Vringo hasn’t been performing well on the stock market since its 2010 IPO, and that trying to squeeze money from better-performing companies by threatening IP warfare based on software patents that should have never been granted looks like a more lucrative business to them.

For your information: you’ve likely never heard about Innovate/Protect because the company doesn’t actually build or sell things. Innovate/Protect is the owner of patent assets acquired from Lycos, a now-irrelevant search engine that was a big deal in the mid-late 1990s. In fact, Innovate/Protect’s chief executive officer, Andrew K. Lang, is the former CTO of Lycos and will serve in that role again at the combined entity after the merger transaction completes.

Back in September 2011, Innovate/Protect subsidiary I/P Engine initiated a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States against Google, AOL, IAC, Gannett Company and Target for allegedly “unlawfully using systems that incorporate features claimed in two patents” owned by Innovate/Protect.

The jury trial is scheduled to begin on October 16, 2012.

And now Vringo, which offers mediocre software platforms for mobile social and video services, is teaming up with Innovate/Protect to increase its patent portfolio and IP licensing and litigation expertise. Prior to this deal, Vringo had 20+ software patent applications, of which 3 were granted.

Fresh Vringo CEO Andrew Perlman used to manage licensing deals with Apple, AT&T, YouTube, ZTE, Nokia and Disney at EMI Music Group and Classic Media.

Vringo chairman Seth Siegel, meanwhile, represented companies like AT&T, Microsoft, Apple and Ford Motor Company in trademark licensing.

Furthermore, joining the freshly created company as Special Counsel is David L. Cohen, who was previously senior litigation counsel at Nokia.

Guess what will likely happen next? That’s right, what we’ve all been waiting for: even more lawsuits that might stifle real innovation from real companies.


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