Since initially writing this post about Groupon’s use of the patent marketplace to acquire this patent to counter a lawsuit from MobGob, I’ve learned that Groupon just can’t stay out of the news. Whether it’s for getting involved in another patent infringement lawsuit or turning down a $6 Billion offer from Google. While I do still think the idea Groupon had (to acquire the fire needed to “fight fire with fire”) was a good one (and likely to be repeated in the near future), I get the feeling that others are reading far too much into Groupon’s patent acquisition by suggesting that the patent is motivating Google’s purchase. While patents are a component of a many deals, lawyers should really do a better job of setting realistic expectations when it comes to assigning value.
In a recent interview with the National Law Journal, attorney Patrick Arnold was asked his opinion about Google’s $6 Billon offer:
NLJ: Google’s $6 billion offer is awfully high for a company founded two years ago. What do you think?
PA: My first thought was somebody probably looked at the technology and the patents closely, and felt like Groupon was in a pretty good position and had a strong patent and/or patent portfolio. I would also imagine…that Groupon has at least one patent and maybe others that Google has done some internal analysis of and said, ‘That’s a good patent and would be good for stopping others from getting into the business.’
So according to NLJ’s “expert,” Groupon’s patent portfolio is likely the primary driver in a $6 Billion offer … To put things in perspective, Google’s offer is 6 times higher than the number pegged for the highly sought-after, 4000 patent Nortel portfolio (rumored to be worth about $1 Billion dollars).
It’s true that Groupon does have at least one patent. They may have others that we don’t know about, for a variety of reasons, but let’s start with what we know, which is one issued patent claiming a specific method for marketing limited time offers that includes “calculating a price … dependent upon … an aggregate amount of … product that … buyers have collectively indicated a willingness to purchase.” Is it possible that Google, a company that apparently can’t muster an offensive counterattack to Oracle, would be interested in this patent to the tune of $6 Billion?
Or could the data-hungry Google empire be after something else that Groupon might have been collecting over the past few years …