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IP, IP Asset, Patent

Is Charles River Licensing British Telecom Patents To Fund German Investment Accounts?

Little more than one year ago, GametimeIP reported that a German investment fund acquired a substantial portfolio from British Telecom:

According to a press release issued yesterday, the German patent fund Patentportfolio 2 S.a.r.l. acquired 400 patent assets from publicly held BT Group PLC. The group is funded by the German investment fund Alpha Patentfronds 2, and strategic IP advisory services will be provided by IP Navigation Group (Europe).

See German Patent Fund Acquires Substantial Portfolio From British Telecom.

Patentportfolio 2′s first strategy was to auction covenants not to sue through ICAP Patent Brokerage.  This week, however, several of Patentportfolio 2′s patents turned up in patent litigation  filed in a Delaware District Court by a company called GlobeTecTrust, LLC, formed in September of this year.  As a Delaware limited liability company, information about GlobeTecTrust will essentially remain a mystery unless it’s owners want to talk.  Sixteen separate lawsuits accuse companies like AT&T, Cablevision, Charter, Cox, Level 3, Time Warner, and Verizon of infringing a variety of optical networking patents.

According to USPTO records, the lawsuits involve a portfolio of six patents assigned from British Telecommunications to Patentportfolio 2, signed on July 19, 2011 and recorded in late September of 2012.

In court documents, GlobeTecTrust claims to be the “exclusive licensee” with the “legal right to enforce rights under the [patents], sue for infringement, and seek all available relief and damages.”  Given that no other assignments were recorded for the asserted GlobeTec patents, it is reasonable to assume, for the moment, that Patentportfolio 2 granted the exclusive license to GlobeTec to maintain ownership of the patent assets, receive a share of any licensing and enforcement revenue, and remain an outsider to the litigation.  After all, Patentportfolio 2 is not your typical patent owner.

Rather, Patentportfolio 2 is part of a complicated investment structure involving a trust funded by German investors which serves as a limited partner in a patent monetization fund (Alpha Patentfronds).  Alpha, in turn, owns patent portfolio companies, such as Patentportfolio 2.  Joff Wild, who studied similar German patent investment vehicles, noted that much of the difficulty such investments have encountered is not in acquiring patent rights, but rather in securing licensing deals.   This likely provides motivation for Patentporftolio 2′s exclusive licensing arrangement with GlobeTecTrust.

But what does all this have to do with Charles River?  Researching a newly formed Delaware LLC sharing an address (1105 North Market Street, Suite 1300, Wilmington,DE 19801) with literally hundreds of other shell companies is no easy trick.  However, a friend tipped me off that someone at GlobeTecTrust had the good sense to secure domain names like GlobeTecTrust.com and GlobeTecTrust.us, both on July 16, 2012.  Alas, GlobeTecTrust.com is registered to “Domains by Proxy,” a privacy service offered by GoDaddy.com.  Another bust.

However, GlobeTechTrust.us is actually registered to David Yurkerwich using a Post Office box in Fairfield, Connecticut (and a New York cell phone number) as his contact information.  Coincidentally, Charles River also lists Yurkerwich as a Vice President in its Intellectual Property consulting business.  Yurkerwich is a fellow member of the IAM 300, and according to his profile “assists clients throughout the world with the valuation, licensing and sale of technology and intellectual property.”

Of course, all this proves is that some person, who happens to be a Vice President at Charles River Associates as an IP licensing advisor just happened to have registered a domain name identical to the name of a Delaware LLC that filed sixteen separate lawsuits against major telecom and cable providers.  Less certain is whether GlobeTec is an officially sanctioned CRAI operation, or whether Yurkerwich might be running this one “off the books.”  Also uncertain is, assuming CRAI is officially involved, when they came into the picture, and whether they are working with or displacing IP Nav.

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