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).
So, less than 24 hours after I wrote that “sometimes the day is not complete without a column … about how our patent system is malfunctioning and not performing its goal of ‘promoting innovation,’” we have this insipid entry from the Wall Street Journal and Andy Kessler. The piece is a fairly predictable diatribe, but I really don’t feel like subjecting myself to News Corp spam just to set Mr. Kessler straight. According to Kessler, “Clearly we’d be better off having Microsoft, Apple and Google spending $1 billion on developing new products rather than buying up patents.”
Patents are big news these days, and sometimes the day is not complete without a column from a tech magazine, or an op-ed by some corporate mouthpiece about how our patent system is malfunctioning and not performing its goal of “promoting innovation.” As evidence of this supposed lack of innovation promotion, these inane articles nearly uniformly point to patent lawsuits, or, for authors wholly incapable of rational thought, to a claimed escalation in patent lawsuits. Indeed, mainstream pieces, like Intellectual Ventures VP Ken Lustig’s Forbes article, No, the Patent System Is Not Broken, that set the record straight on the facts and policy greatly contributes to the debate, but are few and far between.
Steven Gibson is “a licensed attorney and a partner with Dickinson Wright PLLC,” or so claims the opening footnote in a recent document filed by Gibson with the Nevada District Court. Yet by his own admission, this part-owner in a major law firm–dating back to 1878 and home to over 300 lawyers–is not able to: (1) represent a company he owns in court, (2) order a copy of a transcript , and (3) (please sit down) find a law library that provides copies of cases with page numbers!
ICAP lists The Stapleton Group as seller of three of the 52 lots currently listed for public auction. Lot numbers AUC050, 051 and 052 all feature patents sharing a common inventor, Lawrence Kates and many were prosecuted by the firm Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, LLP. A quick check of USPTO Assignment records reveals that Knobbe Martens filed a UCC-1 lien against a large number of Kates’ patents back in 2009. Finally, The Stapleton Group’s website explains that it provides “asset management, bankruptcy, receivership, work out and forensic accounting services.” Stapleton may have been hired by Knobbe to “manage” the Kates patents, or may have simply bought the lien outright in hopes of cashing in on sale day.