Inventors' Rules

— Ex-Microsoft exec Nathan Myhrvold of Seattle isn't well known outside the rarefied confines of wealthy computer techies, though he's uttered plenty of quote-worthy statements. The creator of a Windows precursor that was snapped up by Microsoft back in the 1980s, Myhrvold went to work for the Redmond behemoth and became a millionaire many times over as the company's stock rose over the years. He also used Slate, the online magazine then owned by Microsoft, to sound off on controversial issues of the day: Myhrvold once called opposition to the cloning of human beings "just another form of racism," a kind of "discrimination against people based on a genetic trait -- the fact that somebody has an identical DNA sequence.... What is so special about natural reproduction anyway?" He also made a name for himself by collaborating with Microsoft founder Bill Gates on a 1995 treatise about the future entitled The Road Ahead. Myhrvold took his leave of Microsoft in 2000 and founded a new company called Intellectual Ventures, which he claimed would "reinvent invention."

According to its website, the firm "has been actively inventing since August 2003. The company has filed hundreds of patent applications in more than 30 technology areas and has more than a thousand ideas under consideration. The first patents began issuing in November 2005, and Intellectual Ventures currently ranks in the top 50 among companies who file patents worldwide." And that leads to why Myhrvold gave the reelection campaign of North County GOP congressman Darrell Issa $2100 on October 21. Issa himself became wealthy from his own inventions, 36 by one count, all having to do with car alarms. Issa-drafted legislation recently passed by Congress is also a big favorite of Myhrvold and the rest of the inventor lobby. Bill 5418 would create a pilot program to encourage federal judges to become more familiar with patent law. "This legislation will raise the level of expertise in patent litigation, improve the reliability of patents and allow businesses to spend more time inventing and less time litigating," according to a statement by the bill's cosponsor, Representative Adam Schiff, an L.A. Democrat. In addition to Issa, Myhrvold has contributed to a diverse array of candidates, including $1000 to Friends of Hillary Clinton and $2000 to Pennsylvania GOP senator Rick Santorum.

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