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Intellectual Ventures, an intellectual property firm that's amassed tens of thousands of patents, has sued telecom firms including AT&T Inc. (T) and T-Mobile USA Inc. for infringement.
The complaint filed Thursday in a Delaware court marks an additional lawsuit from a firm that has raised some concern as it wields a considerable patent portfolio.
Bellevue, Wash.-based Intellectual Ventures, which has some 35,000 patents and patent applications, was founded in 2000 by former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) executive Nathan Myhrvold.
The firm has tapped thinkers including Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to develop some of its own innovations, while purchasing most of its patents.
Intellectual Ventures alleges in its complaint Thursday that defendants AT&T, T-Mobile and units of Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) have infringed on 15 of its patents.
The patents relate to technology such as the sending of messages between mobile devices and blocking service over a telecom network.
Intellectual Ventures acquired the patents rather than developing them internally, according to the firm's Chief Litigation Counsel Melissa Finocchio.
Finocchio said that Intellectual Ventures reached out to the telecom firms over "many months" about reaching a licensing deal for the patents, though the firms proved "unresponsive, and uninterested."
Efforts to reach representatives from T-Mobile and Sprint for comment were not successful. AT&T declined comment.
Intellectual Ventures had avoided filing lawsuits over its patents until late 2010, when it sued a number of firms including security software maker Symantec Corp. (SYMC)
Last fall, Intellectual Ventures sued Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (MMI) for alleged patent infringement. Motorola is being acquired by Google Inc. (GOOG), in large part due to its considerable arsenal of patents.
Intellectual Ventures has previously disclosed that Google, Microsoft and Apple Inc. (AAPL) have a financial interest in the firm.
Intellectual Ventures has drawn fire from some critics who question a business model that involves developing ideas, rather than using ideas to support a business model other than licensing intellectual property.
The firm states in its complaint filed Thursday that it has paid inventors more than $400 million for their inventions, and has pulled in more than $2 billion in licesning revenue to date.
-By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; email@example.com