Company accused of being the world's largest ‘patent troll’ starts PAC

A company accused of being the world’s largest “patent troll” is ramping up its presence in Washington by starting a political action committee that could contribute to campaigns.

Intellectual Ventures, which is one of the country’s top patent owners but makes few of its own products, filed to organize the committee with the Federal Election Commission this week.

In-house lobbyist Russ Merbeth is listed as the PAC’s treasurer. Kyle Mahoney, the company's government relations manager, is listed as the assistant treasurer.


Mahoney confirmed the PAC’s formation to The Hill but declined to discuss plans for the committee.

The Bellevue, Wash.,-based company makes money from fees other companies pay to license its patents. It also sues businesses that seem to be using its intellectual property without permission.

Tech companies have complained that the business and others like it are a thorn in their side that threaten frivolous, expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.

Intellectual Ventures defends its work and argues it is defending intellectual property and increasing the value of innovation.

The company has not been a stranger to Capitol Hill.

Last year, it spent more than $1 million on lobbying, mainly for copyright and patent issues, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. 

The new PAC could be a sign that Intellectual Ventures is feeling increased heat in Washington.

The Obama administration and top members of Congress have taken steps to reform the patent process. The White House unveiled three new executive actions and held an event with Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him Obama Commerce secretary backs Biden's 2020 bid MORE and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling to push the issue on Thursday. 

A patent reform bill called the Innovation Act passed the House in December but has yet to gain steam in the Senate.