In a rare move, given their previous disdain for intellectual property owners, Google released new enhancements to the free Google Patents search engine to help patent owners–along with lawyers, analysts and advisors–identify and investigate potential patent infringement. To avoid potential backlash from a community of activists that have rallied around the search advertising giant, Google conveniently disguised the tool as one aimed at helping to crush intellectual property rights of anyone standing in their way. However, Google’s new capability potentially has broad implications, many of which benefit patent owners looking to improve patent licensing and monetization results using modern technology.
Two bills currently pending in Congress, if passed, would ultimately impact patent enforcement far more than the lengthy America Invents Act signed into law last year. First up is H.R. 3889 Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales Act, introduced by California Republican (and inventor) Darrell Issa and aimed at curbing enforcement of design patents that claim “a component part of a motor vehicle.” Also pending is H.R. 6245, reportedly dubbed the Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act. Interestingly, the only online source that appears to have an actual pdf copy of the bill text (as of Thursday evening) is the Electronic Freedom Foundation.
In a paper published on July 25, 2012 (available from SSRN), Chicago-area scholars David Schwartz and Jay Kesan challenge a study by Boston University professors James Bessen and Michael Meurer, which claimed that patent litigation generated by so-called “non-practicing entities” imposes direct costs of $29 B. Intellectual Ventures’ Peter Detkin and Patentology’s Mark Summerfield already challenged a number of the premises and conclusions behind the Bessen/Meurer paper, which was, not coincidentally, funded by corporate giants, such as Google, Cisco and Amazon.com through funding from the Coalition for Patent Fairness.
The BBC ran another article in a tired meme about evil patent owners supposedly “costing” billions per year. Of course, the article doesn’t specify who supposedly bore this $29 B “cost” or how it was calculated, but instead cites a Boston University paper by Professors James Bessen and Michael Meurer. According to the BBC article, “Intellectual Ventures, one of the highest-profile NPEs, was not available for comment.” However, an IV spokeswoman told Gametime IP that she was surprised by the article and that the BBC had not, in fact, reached out to them for comment.
Some readers may already have noticed a recent series of articles posted to the investor-focused website Seeking Alpha focusing on companies that either currently, formerly, or prospectively will, derive most of their revenue from patent monetization. (In fact, the first series of articles includes at least one of each.)
These so-called “patent plays” form an increasingly larger sector of the market and, in some cases, present a viable way for people to invest in valuable intellectual property.
From a press release circulated by Intellectual Ventures yesterday:
Akzo Nobel N.V. (AkzoNobel) and Intellectual Ventures (IV®) announced today that they have entered into a joint collaboration agreement to develop new technologies for the paint and coatings industry.
The collaboration provides AkzoNobel with access to technologies from IV’s portfolio of chemistry and materials science inventions. Under the terms of the agreement, IV will work with its network of more than 3,000 inventors – including individual inventors and inventors from government labs, research institutions, corporations and universities – to invent new technologies that can then be used by AkzoNobel to enhance its competitive position. AkzoNobel may select technologies for further development and testing, potentially leading to commercialization in new and existing products.
Earlier this week, reports of Intellectual Ventures recent license agreement with Cypress Semiconductor surfaced. Cypress requested confidential treatment in an SEC filing disclosing that the semiconductor maker “agreed to pay a license fee and to purchase certain litigation defense services from IV in the future.” The filing mentions a related agreement in which “IV is expected to make certain patent purchases from [Cypress] in the near term.”
Micron, in disposing of patents to John Desmarais’ Round Rock Research, LLC, developed a plan that was simple in concept, although potentially complex in execution thanks to a desire to conceal the participation of its business partners. Nevertheless, Round Rock opponents exposed some of the mechanics behind Micron’s plan in public court filings (embedded below the article), while sources fill in some gaps that help bring the full transaction into focus.
Every technology company I have is getting hit by patent lawsuits that are the biggest bunch of bullshit ever.
I’m talking about companies that have been doing business the same way for years that are getting hit by patent trolls . These aren’t operating companies that are trying to protect their business. These are companies that aggregate patents and raise capital for the sole purpose of suing companies and extorting money from them.
– Mark Cuban on August 6, 2011 (If you want to see more jobs created – change patent laws)
A: Because computers are not capable of truly understanding patents. Period.
Joff Wild over at the IAM Blog explained M-CAM’s $290 M prediction as the “absolute ceiling price” of the AOL patent sale quite succinctly (and politely) by noting that the computer analytics firm “seems to have got it horribly wrong.” Meanwhile, MDB Capital’s Christopher Marlett prediction of a $1 B patent sale turned out to be nearly dead-on. But you’ll have to forgive my ultra-polite, British friend, Joff, because M-CAM is an American company, and this blog primarily caters to an American audience (although anyone across the pond, or anywhere else is always welcome).