IP Market Updates
March 23, 2017
We are resending this newsletter as our email service provider inadvertently inverted some of our text in the version we sent yesterday ... If you did not realize this, then you read too fast and this is your chance to make it up ;-)
As the song goes, “What difference does a day make?” Well, imagine a few weeks of business travels without regularly disgorging the basket full of news that has filled up daily in the wonderful IP market space since I last wrote this column. So, with no further ado, here’s the abridged version of what you missed if you spent March skiing.
First things first; we had a rare US Supreme Court decision earlier this week and - Oh surprise!- an even rarer one because it was actually favorable to patent owners. Let’s pause a moment and enjoy the warm feeling it procures… Not that the SCOTUS has suddenly become patents friendly; but they do like to harmonize federal laws and there was a discrepancy between the way copyrights and patents treated the doctrine of laches. In short, “laches” is an equitable defense that an alleged infringer can raise when the patent (or copyright owner) has waited too long (from the defendant’s perspective) to bring a lawsuit. This is rooted on the premise that it would be unfair to sit on the sidelines watching an infringer invest significant resources to build a successful business over time, only to come back years later and ask for a slice of it. Laches were usually triggered after 6 years of inaction (assuming the patent owner knew all along about the infringing acts) and it also meant that you could no longer claim past damages against an infringer, only future damages (which cannot be quantified). Well, this defense is now gone. Finished. Hasta la vista! Although the actual impact of this decision is hard to measure just days after the fact, it can only be seen as a positive outcome for patent owners who can now take their time to bring their suit against patent infringers. This should normally help increase patent valuations over time, especially if one considers the other Supreme Court decision last summer that lowered the threshold required to prove willful infringement and thus be awarded enhanced (2 to 3 times) damages.
This decision came just as we were getting some up-to-date data about patent sales in the last quarter of 2016, which reflect a flat market over the previous quarter, with asking prices hovering at around US $250K/per US issued patent (prices of non-US patents were around US $150K). Given how dire the market has been lately, a relatively flat quarter is actually not bad and our own experience so far in 2017 points to a more active marketplace. Below is a list of the top 10 seller and buyers in Q4 of 2016, with the usual caveat that most transactions are kept confidential and many buyers either buy through some special purpose vehicles (SPV) to hide their trail, or simply wait indefinitely before recording their title with the patent office. Plus, the number of packages below reflects a rather small universe. But we’ll take partial data over fake news anytime, won’t we?
One interesting piece of data is to see Intellectual Ventures (IV) back again at acquiring patents. This is like seeing your grandma resume training for a triathlon. Recently, IV had been in the news a lot more for their divestiture of patents they were stuck with, than for their buying, as they sold a large portfolio to NPE Dominion Harbor just a few weeks ago. It appears that they could not resist going back in the market to spend that new cash!
Another surprising acquisition was Microsoft announcing the purchase of about 100 patents from the beleaguered semiconductor company Toshiba, relating mostly to the design, manufacture and packaging of semiconductor devices. This is an interesting play for MS, which does not build chips. This could be related to its decision announced last week to run some of its cloud operations, as well as its flagship Surface Pro laptops, using AMD chipsets. Were these patents meant to provide some air cover to AMD in case Intel decides to flex its muscles?
Regardless, it still remains a tough environment for patent owners and NPEs. In this regard, Sovereign Patent Funds (SPF) have not escaped this reality. Last week, the CEO of Korean SPF Intellectual Discovery abruptly resigned. Meanwhile Japanese SPF, IP Bridge, is marred in so many challenges to the validity of its patents in the US that, it is having a hard time monetizing any of its assets. Just like those raptors in Jurassic Park, no fewer than four semiconductor companies have teamed up to hit the patent fund operator with 24 Inter Partes reviews (IPRs) at the USPTO's Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB) in the space of just one month! … Which brings us back, once again, to the question, has the PTAB has simply become the place where patents go to die? One must wonder what the unintended consequences are on innovation.
This is also a vivid reminder that IP is still a “full contact” sport and that any company that wants to stay in business, and succeed in the long run, cannot survive without a sound IP strategy in place.
Other relevant news below.
Korean sovereign patent fund Intellectual Discovery gets a new boss, but questions remain
IN THE NEWS
Korean sovereign patent fund operator Intellectual Discovery (ID) has new leadership in place following the abrupt departure of CEO Kwang Jun Kim, (more...)
AMD claims LG and Vizio are violating its graphics patents
Both Samsung and AMD's former manufacturing wing GlobalFoundries are already licensing the patents, so AMD may already have an advantage (more...)
Supreme Court of the United States to Hear Oral Arguments in Patent Exhaustion Case
Lexmark International, Inc. The Court will decide: (i) whether the patent exhaustion doctrine applies in instances where a patented article is sold by the (more...)
Trade Agreements, Patents, and Drug Prices: Continuing the Debate International IP and the Public Interest
Abstract: The upward-ratcheting of patent protection through trade agreements has generated significant concerns about potential effects on prices of (more...)
Ericsson tries to avoid patent war by publishing rates for 5G
The Indian Express
Ericsson AB has taken the unusual step of publicly setting a price tag on what it will cost to license the telecom company's tech for the next gen of (more...)
Would YOU let a friend share your phone battery? Sony patents technology for wireless power ...
The Japanese tech company Sony has patented technology that will enable phone users to 'steal' battery power from nearby devices. Pictured is an (more...)
Adidas sues Asics for allegedly infringing on fitness tracking patents
Portland Business Journal
Adidas and Adidas America have filed a federal lawsuit against Asics America, claiming the company is infringing on 10 fitness tracking patents. Irvine (more...)
New Amendments to SIPO's Guidelines for Patent Examination
JD Supra (press release)
In preparation for the emergence of the financial technology, or “fintech” industry, SIPO is loosening up patent protection for innovation relating to (more...)
One Way To Force Down Drug Prices: Have The US Exercise Its Patent Rights
Rising drug prices are one of the biggest challenges in health care in the United States. More people are using prescription drugs on a regular basis, (more...)
Time to Quiet Title for Patents: Fixing the PTAB by Recognizing Patents are Property
So far speed has been obtained thanks to systematic and purposeful denial of procedural due process to patent owners, and so many technology (more...)
Patent Trolls Beware: 40 Firms Join Fight Against Blockchain IP Abuse
A coalition of blockchain companies is attempting to build a defensive wall against any attempts by so-called patent trolls to steal intellectual property (more...)
China set to become world leader in international patents
“China-based filers are behind much of the growth in international patent and trademark filings . . . as the country continues its journey from 'Made in (more...)
Yahoo's 4K Excalibur patents in search, mobile, cloud and more valued at $740M
The slow progression of the sale of Yahoo to Verizon — first announced in July 2016 but delayed in part because of massive data breach disclosures (more...)
Donald Trump, Jr is a patent-troll and his biggest client now does business with the US government
Starting in 2011, Macrosolve became a prolific patent troll, suing 59 companies in dozens of lawsuits, filing in the notorious, patent-troll-friendly East (more...)
The Unsung Role of Patents When It Comes to Prosperity
Do these things sound patentable? A noninvasive method to check a fetus for genetic defects? A new MRI machine? A new oil rig? A forehead (more...)
Intellectual Ventures Back in Brokered Patent Market for Q4
Intellectual Ventures Management LLC emerged as one of the top patent buyers in the U.S. brokered market in the fourth quarter of 2016, after a year (more...)
Silent Spring for Patents
“Corporations in their quest to eliminate all patent challenges by delegitimizing the entire patent system have created this crisis… inventors will be (more...)
Chinese groups file record number of patents in Europe
Chinese companies are filing a record number of patents in Europe, in preparation for their international expansion, according to the European Patent (more...)
Outlook of Mergers & Acquisitions, Investments, and Patents in the 3D Printing Market
PR Newswire (press release)
The 3D printing market has witnessed tremendous growth in M&A activities in terms of the number of deals announced between 2010 and 2016. (more...)
The importance of balanced patent policy
The Hill (blog)
Those of us that want sound and lasting patent reform must be cautious that the pendulum doesn't swing too far and hurt legitimate patent enforcement (more...)
Inventing Strategy 101: Laying the Foundation for Business Success
Always remember, a patent gives you no rights other than the right to exclude others. It is quite detrimental for inventor to narrowly focus on only what (more...)