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IP Market Updates
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IP Market Updates
Read by over 12,000 IP and business professionals worldwide
 
April 30, 2017


Donald Trump’s supporters often mention that he should be taken seriously, but not always literally… Well it appears I might want to invoke Trump's First Rule of Interpretation for myself, as my comments last week regarding WiLAN’s announcement that it was “calling it quits” on its traditional patent monetization model apparently created concerns with some of their constituents - despite having provided a direct link to the company’s own announcement in this column. Therefore, and as promised, I am adding this quote provided by WiLan’s CEO for further clarity: “WiLAN wishes to confirm that it is in no way exiting or “quitting” its patent licensing business and will continue to operate as it has in the past.  However, it has decided to diversify its business model as described in its recent press releases, and is utilizing part of its large cash balance to foster further corporate growth in areas outside of patent licensing.  The WiLAN licensing company will now operate as one of several divisions of a new holding company Quarterhill Inc., which recently announced the acquisition of International Road Dynamics, an Industrial Internet of Things company.”
 
As announcements go, we saw an intriguing one this week when InterTrust and Google announced they would team up to launch a new start-up focused on an initiative called PatentShield, apparently to protect said start-ups against law suits from “patent trolls”. The start-ups who participate in the program will receive protection from a selection of patents from the Google and InterTrust portfolios. In exchange, Google and InterTrust will receive equity in the company. Yes, equity, as in partial ownership.
 
This is interesting for a variety of reasons; first, InterTrust is known for its past success enforcing its own patent portfolio as its main line of business and has often been referred to as a patent troll itself.  It wasn’t afraid to sue Microsoft in 2001, TiVO in 2006 and, more recently, Apple in 2013, according to the RPX database. Second, Google (like several other large US tech companies) is not exactly known in the IP community for having been a strong supporter of patent rights as of late. It is also among the top 5 companies that have filed the most petitions to invalidate issued patents, with 86 petitions in just the last 3 years (See Table - in all fairness, these challenges are often in response of a lawsuit filed against the party filing the petition). Third and more important, offering selected patents in your portfolio to start-ups in exchange for some degree of equity can easily lead to an uneven exchange of value, as a vast percentage of ANY company’s patents is generally considered to be of very little value and the entity offering those can easily select the lower grade assets. 



In other words, all patents are not created equal. For instance, SNAP paid $7.7 million dollars for only one patent, as we reported last week. However, they also paid about the same price a few months earlier ($9.45M to be precise) for roughly 245 IBM patents, according to SNAP’s own SEC filing. That amounts to a mere $23,000 per IBM asset. Therefore, there is a great disparity amongst patents and one can only hope that the PatentShield program will provide quality assets to companies in exchange for start-up company equity.  Ultimately though, one must also remember that there is very little incentive these days for an NPE -which is only interested in monetization -  to sue a start-up for patent infringement, as it requires millions of dollars to make it to a final court decision and it would take sales of one or two orders of magnitude greater to have enough recoupable damages to break even assuming the owner is successful, which it rarely is. In other words, from the start-up perspective, this program strikes me more as a solution in search of a problem.  Time only will tell.
 
In other news, we saw an important announcement from the Singapore government revealing a new national $1B dollar fund to invest in IP-rich technology companies. One of the main players behind this new Makara Innovation Fund (MIF) is none other than the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), thus the government itself. This is an intriguing model and something other countries will probably look at very seriously when defining their own national IP strategy.
 
Finally, I could not resist sharing the latest in the USPTO director saga. While we discussed a few weeks ago that the US Secretary of Commerce was interviewing a few well respected (and more pro-patentees) candidates, “BigTech” is now lobbying the government to keep Michelle Lee in her current job. If we needed any more proof that the USPTO has become politicized, there you have it. This is the last thing we need at this juncture and so disheartening!

Other relevant news below. Happy reading!
 


 Midwest Energy Emissions (MEEC) acquires SEA Technology patents from EERCF 
Yahoo Finance 
In a milestone event, Midwest Energy Emissions (MEEC) closed on the acquisition of patents rights and patents pending related to the Sorbent … (more…)

 Qualcomm cuts financial outlook as Apple blocks more patent payment
The San Diego Union-Tribune 
Qualcomm has reduced its third quarter financial outlook after learning Apple will withhold patent royalty payment until a legal dispute between the two ... (more…)
    
 Inventor with 400 patents gives millions to Cambridge 
The Times
John C Taylor, who has 400 patents to his name, has donated £2.5 million to Cambridge to pay for the position, 55 years after he graduated from the ... (more…)

 Why the Unified Patents Model Would Not Work in China 
IPWatchdog.com 
China compass I have received a number of inquiries from friends and readers recently regarding Unified Patents and whether their model of attacking ... (more…)
    
 Clean energy patent slump in U.S. stirs concern 
Science Magazine 
The number of patents issued in fields related to cutting carbon emissions climbed from 15,970 in 2009 to approximately 35,000 in 2014 and 2015, ... (more…)
        
 Report: Ping purchases five Nike club and ball patents 
GolfDigest.com 
The latest development with Nike's exit from the club business is the sale of its club and ball patents to Ping's parent company Karsten Manufacturing ... (more…)
    
 Google, Intertrust launch program to defend startups from patent lawsuits — in exchange for equity 
Silicon Valley Business Journal 
Google and Intertrust on Tuesday launched a program to help startups protect themselves against patent litigation. In exchange, the startups will give ... (more…)


 
Louis Carbonneau, Founder & CEO
(
IAM World's Leading IP Strategists since 2012


Tangible IP is a strategic IP advisory firm and the global leader in the sale and acquisition of high-quality patents, with a proven track record of over 2000 patents successfully brokered. If you are looking for strategic IP advice or have patents that could be monetized to raise capital or reinvest into your R&D, please contact us at info@tangibleip.biz.
 
Recent Events
On April 26, 2017, Mr. Carbonneau was a keynote speaker at the 9th bi-annual edition of FORPIQ conference in Montreal where he talked about Embracing the New IP Reality.  
Upcoming Events
On May 3, 2017, Mr. Carbonneau will be speaking at the 2nd Annual Cleantech Summit of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) in Ottawa. SDTC is an independent national public entity that funds Canadian cleantech projects and coaches the companies that lead them as they move their ground-breaking technologies to market, Mr. Carbonneau will be moderating a panel discussing a national IP strategy for the clean tech industry.  
New Patent Sale Completed
Tangible IP recently closed a patent sale in the field of Audio & Video Search Content. We have closed on 2 new portfolio sales since the beginning of the year and have more transactions in closing. Look for more public announcements shortly.
New Portfolios for Sale
We have several patent portfolios for sale, most of them with detailed evidence of use (EoU). To see all available portfolios, or to submit patents for a free evaluation, visit our website
Our services are designed to form the building blocks of a complete IP ecosystem, from due diligence to sophisticated strategic advisory, from valuation to complex sales and IP licensing program. Most services can be procured separately or combined to better fit your needs and minimize duplicate costs. In most cases, you will get valuable insights and strategic tools to create and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage for much less than the price of filing a single patent application.
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