Monday, January 26, 2015

Patent Law Changes Bad News for Corporat Portfolios

"The patent market is in a deep recession and there is no reason to think it will change any time soon."  This is a quote from the article, Patent Law changes in US mean there are potentially billions of dollars of write-downs on public company balance sheets... 

In the past two or three decades, the asset structure of F-500 companies have shifted from predominantly physical  to intellectual assets.  Estimates frange from 60% to 80% + on the intellectual side.  This precipitated major increases in the importance of a corporation's patent portfolio, its emphasis on obtaining and protecting patents and its care and handling of other forms of IP.  Large companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire patent portfolios for aggressive and/or protective purposes.  This has given birth to the "patent troll" a unique form of entrepreneurial ethics.

The consequences of these and other changes along with a flood of corporate money that went to Washington to motivate Congress, padded with several ugly Supreme Court rulings, has turned a competitive advantage for many into an asset disadvantage.

Yet another in a long corporate list of self-inflicted wounds.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Toll of the Patent Troll by any other name: Intellectual Property - Bloomberg

Symantec, Microsoft, Blue Cross: Intellectual Property - Bloomberg:

A patent troll, by any other name, may not be called a "patent troll" in court.

This would be funny, if it weren't true. The often called "patent troll" company Intellectual Ventures LLC, can not be disparages by such names as "patent troll" in court the presiding judge says. IV -- a play on the vampire concept of draining all the blood from the body of otherwise living and productive entities -- does not produce anything and has a monster war chest of patents which it brings out only during the stealth of night.

In the case of an entity that buys up patents but doesn't invent and doesn't produce anything, the company is often referred to unkindly as a "patent troll". In the real world, like cell phone makers, someone producing a product is exposed to other producer's patents, and vise verse. The players are forced to work together, license and cross-license in order for anyone to produce anything.

But the troll has a wonderful vantage point. Any product produced is fare game, and the real players in the game don't have much recourse if they want to produce anything and run a productive business.

Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) is another name for the troll, but it is not nearly so accurate.

IV was rated #1 troll in 2012 in the kingdom of patent trolls: here.

And, of course, the targets of the NPEs are larger and more innovative companies like AT&T and Google. In 2013 the "troll" toll in terms of law suites were up 19% from the prior year. (Fortune article on this topic.) It will be interesting to see what the stats for 2014 are since there has been a big drop in several types of law suits based on benchmark legal rulings.

For now, a patent troll, by any other name, will have to be by a nicer name, at least in court. I wonder if Patent Vampire, or intellectual property parasite is acceptable?

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