"Microsoft and Sony's investments give IV a fresh war chest to buy new patents," said Kevin Jakel, chief executive of Unified Patents, which advises tech companies on alternatives to patent aggregators like IV.
Intellectual Ventures is one of the top five patent owners in the U.S. and has a portfolio of over 70,000 patents and intellectual property assets. The company has raised $6 billion for patents and is courting investors like Apple to raise an additional $3 billion.
Microsoft, Sony, Apple and Intel have invested in Intellectual Ventures in the past, giving them access to IV's patent holdings and a portion of the royalties it collects. Apple didn't comment on its recent decision not to invest in IV, but one intellectual property expert believes it is not related to the company's recent efforts to influence patent legislation in the U.S.
"Amy Landers, an intellectual property professor at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, said Apple and Intel's decision on IV's latest fund was probably unrelated to the political debate on patent reform.
"The companies that are not investing in the fund have probably just found better uses for their money," Landers said.
Apple recently joined the new Partnership for American Innovation, a patent reform lobbying group that includes DuPont, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and Pfizer. The group is opposing recent patent reform legislation that they claim may hurt actual innovations that need patent protection.