The Apple vs. Samsung Verdict Actually Demonstrates that Patents Do Promote Product Innovation

In the time that the Apple vs. Samsung patent fight has been underway, we have been inundated with an untold number of articles on how Apple is stifling innovation in the SmartPhone world.  (Haven’t seen these:  just do a Google search for “Apple stif . . .” you don’t have to type any more than this–the search auto-completes itself.) I often take a contrarian view from that stated by most “expert” commentators–be they members of the press or actual patent professionals, and the Apple v. Samsung verdict is no exception:  I think the result actually demonstrates that the patent system is working just fine in this instance, thank you very much.  But how can this be when Samsung got hit with more than a BILLION US DOLLAR jury verdict last week?!?  Doesn’t the fact that Samsung could not make a product without infringing Apple’s multitude of patents mean that Samsung is effectively prevented from competing with Apple in the Smartphone market? Not necessarily, as is shown by this great post from The Verge entitled:  “How Android has evolved while steering clear of Apple’s designs”.  What is most interesting to me about this article is how we see that while making Continue Reading →

GSU Corporate IP Roundtable on November 4 and 5: A Great IP Event at a Great Discount

Many of you who read my blog also follow my Tweet Streams when I am at conferences.  Last Fall, I blogged from the Georgia State University Corporate IP Institute.  Several people admonished me for not letting them know beforehand that the event was occurring, so this year I am giving everyone advance notice, as well as providing folks with the ability to attend using my discount code. The 2010 GSU Corporate IP Institute will be on November 4-5 at Georgia State University.  Unlike most IP-related CLE’s, this event generally is light on the case law citations, and heavy on practical tips for those who view IP as a primary form of business value today.  (Editorial note:  if you are a case law geek, then this is not the event for you–but if you are a caselaw geek, why the heck are you reading this blog anyway?!) The full details are in this brochure, but one super highlight is that on the 4th, Ray Niro will go up against Dan McCurdy to discuss IP monetization–those in the know will recognize that this is like having matter and anti-matter in the same room!   This will be my 4th year attending this event, Continue Reading →

Want to Know More about IP Strategy? A Selection of Posts for In-House and Outside Counsel

This week, I am speaking at the Midwest IP Institute.  I will be participating in a “fire side chat” with my good friend, Edna Vassilovski of Stoel, Rives LLP. Our session is entitled “How Patent Prosecutors and In-House Counsel Can Provide Work Product Better Aligned with Client’s Business Needs.”  Specific topics we will discuss include: How clients’ views of IP and intangible assets are changing and ways both inside and outside counsel can stay relevant to clients today; What you can do to help clients obtain meaningful patents at reduced cost; How to really understand clients’ business goals and how to help make those happen; and How to help clients monetize their patents I am really looking forward to sharing my passion for IP business strategy with in-house lawyers and outside counsel, especially since I will be doing this with someone like Edna who I think has a great grasp on client service from a business perspective.  In preparation for this talk, and for the benefit of those attending the the session who would like to learn more about my perspective, I thought it made sense to revive some previous blog posts from the past couple of years where I Continue Reading →

Seeking to Sell Your Patent to a Big Company? Think About These Negotation Tips

Over the past year of so, I have become friends with Victoria Pynchon, an accomplished California litigator and ADR expert.  She is a great source of information for people seeking advice in the area of ADR and negotiation, whether IP or otherwise.  Victoria has just posted some information that I think will be of great use to any entrepreneur or start up that is seeking to sell their patent(s) to a larger entity.  Except for very rare circumstances, these IP owners will be at a significant disadvantage in comparison to the company to which it seeks to sell.  This post, entitled “More on Bargaining from a Position of Weakness” should be the first step before any small IP owner approaches the possible purchaser to help them understand how to succeed in the typically highly uneven bargaining process. Specifically, people or companies with IP to sell today are hoping to succeed in a market where there are a whole lot more sellers than there are buyers.  (More on this here.)  These IP owners are invariably negotiating from a position of weakness, which makes the advice set out in the Victoria Pynchon’s blog post not only relevant, but also critical for anyone seeking Continue Reading →

For Inventor of 21 Patents, Patent Troll Litigation Not Very Lucrative

  Recently, I wrote a post on why I think that patent litigation is not a viable business model for inventors.  Given a realistic deconstruction of the costs and possible damage awards, I concluded that, in most situations, it is not realistic for an inventor to presume that she will “hit the jackpot” by suing infringers and extracting settlement or damage awards.  I obtained some pushback from this post, mostly from patent litigation lawyers, who contend that I am wrong in my view that patent litigation does not pay for inventors.  Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I respect the views of others, however, no one who objects to my (somewhat) negative view of patent litigation as a business model, has provided me with numbers to discount my economic analysis of patent litigation.  This recent post from The Prior Art blog entitled “Revealed! How Much Money a “Patent Troll” Makes” provides some insight into usually confidential inventor returns when dealing with a patent licensing program.  The underlying patents related to GPS technology and were asserted against several prominent technology companies.  The post gives a rare look into the numbers involved obtained in sending “patent licensing letters” to technology companies.  In Continue Reading →

The Coming Explosion of the Patent Monetization Market: Brought to You by Open Innovation and What Needs to Happen in Order to Speed Up the Process

This week, I got a call out of the blue from a very senior business development person at a Fortune 10 technology company “wanting to know more” about patent licensing and monetization.  This was a bit strange:  his company has literally dozens of patent professionals on staff, files 100′s of patents a year and, as I found out, has 35 or so business people working on patent  licensing and monetization efforts for the organization.  So, why would he (let’s call him “Bob”) need to talk to me these topics?  Certainly, there is a veritable army of highly-paid smart people to answer IP and patent questions at his beck and call, and I was interested in finding out what Bob sought to find out from me that he could not get from his own people. I was not surprised to find out that Bob did not want to learn more about buying and selling technology on behalf of his company.  Rather, Bob’s interest was personal:  he wanted to find out more about patent licensing and monetization because he believes that patent marketplaces are the wave of the future and he wants to participate in what he sees as wide-open business opportunity.  He couldn’t talk about his Continue Reading →

A Patent Reality Check: Litigation Not a Viable Revenue Source for Most Inventors

The ability of an intrepid inventor to strike it rich from a great idea seems to be embedded in the DNA of many Americans.  Perhaps this view emanates from the presence of patents in the US Constitution, which could create a feeling that US citizens have an “inalienable right” to use patent protection to their advantage.  Alternatively, people may perceive the occasional media reports of successful inventors and substantial patent litigation awards as a signal that patents can serve as a path to wealth for those with great ideas (certainly, this is the Hollywood view).  In truth, however, getting rich merely from a patent is a rare occurrence–maybe not as low a probability as winning the lottery, but the odds are incredibly long that any person can make money from a patented idea alone.  Think about it: if all it took was a patent to make someone wealthy, there would be a heck of a lot more rich people in this country given the huge numbers of patents that are granted by the US Patent Office every year. There are many reasons why the idea getting rich from patenting an idea is overstated, several of which I have discussed before on this Continue Reading →

“It’s Not You It’s Them” or “They’re Just Not into You”: Why Being an Independent Inventor is Like Dating

The view that a good idea will result in a windfall for an independent inventor seems to be embedded in the fabric of US culture–perhaps it’s because the patent system dates from our earliest days.  Indeed, a surprisingly large number of people think that getting a patent will result in a large company paying them huge sums of money for the ability to introduce a product covered by that patent.  This belief serves to motivate countless numbers of inventors to spend $1000′s on patent protection, as well as years of hopeful waiting for their patent to exit the Patent Office.  Few ever see their product make it to the marketplace, however. As an attorney at a prestigious IP law firm, I really gave little thought to what my clients would do with their idea once I succeeded in obtaining a patent for them.   My job was to help my clients convince the Patent Office that their idea passed the legal requirements for patentability.  Indeed, my clients came to me for legal advice, not business advice, and they likely would have considered it to be inappropriate if I questioned their motives for wanting to get a patent in the first place.  However, after recently spending time Continue Reading →

IP Quality Must be a Key Feature in Any Financial Product Based on IP Assets

Neil Wilkof of the great IP Finance blog brought up a couple of interesting issues in his latest blog post entitled Securitization of IP: Urban Legend, or Playing Soon in a Theatre Near You? Specifically, he wonders if the desire for innovative (and not discredited) financial products today will result in the emergence of IP securitization as a model for raising capital and, if so, if the there will be a place for IP professionals in the process of valuing such IP.  I recommend Neil’s post to anyone who is interested in how IP assets might be leveraged to create opportunities outside of the usual protection of the IP owner’s products and technology. Moreover, I agree with Neil’s view that if IP is going to be a recognized as a means to raise capital, improvements have to be made in the way finance and IP professionals interact. Put simply, if IP forms the basis upon which companies raise money, the quality of the IP must be well understood so as to allow development of a reality-based risk profile for the transaction.  This cannot be accomplished without putting someone who understands IP in the center of the process. To use a simple Continue Reading →

Patent Monetization Can be a New Source of Revenue for Your Company: Make Sure You Know the Critical Steps for Success

As corporate revenues continue decreasing as a result of consumer and corporation belt-tightening, many businesses now seek to extract revenue from previously untapped areas. One such source experiencing increasing interest is patent monetization, whereby a business licenses or sells its unused or under-utilized patent assets to generate a new revenue stream. At the surface, patent monetization would effectively appear to be a “no brainer” for business. That is, if one owns an asset that holds little internal value, but to which a third party would ascribe considerable value, why wouldn’t a company move forward with selling that asset? In truth, however, few organizations possess the knowledge base required to succesfully execute on a patent monetization plan. This failure results not because patent monetization requires a complex set of skills; rather, the difficulty typically lies with the organization’s lack of familiarity with the process of patent monetization. A successful patent monetization process requires a step-wise progression through the four steps set forth in the following diagram. Each of these steps is discussed below. Step 1: Perform an Objective Internal Patent Audit to Identify Potentially Saleable Assets The first step to successful execution of a patent monetization plan requires the organization to Continue Reading →