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Startup Patent Strategy: Be Unbreakable

Several of my current clients are startup companies that understand that, to have real value, their patents must be seen by a third party as meaningful to the opportunity--be it customers, revenue stream, or any other business strategy--that this potential potential partner, licensor, or acquirer seeks to access. Put another way, patents generated by early stage companies that are developing innovative technology must “make it cheaper to go through them than around them.” For these types of patent owners, due diligence conducted by third parties is more than just “kicking the tires” of the patent portfolio; instead, their patents will be examined by an expert team to make sure they won’t "break" just when they’re needed most. As an initial aspect of this discussion, it should be stressed that not all patents are equal in value. Some patents--and, in my view, this is the

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Guest Blogger: How Patent Vulnerability Impacts Valuation by David Wanetick of IncreMental Advantage

(This week, David Wanetick, Managing Director of IncreMental Advantage provides readers if the IP Asset Maximizer Blog with an excellent overview of the various factors that he believes affect patent valuation.  Please let me know if you would like to be a Guest Blogger.)

How Patent Vulnerability Impacts Valuation by David Wanetick of IncreMental Advantage As I often tell business leaders who attend my course on Valuing Early-Stage Technologies, valuing patents isn’t rocket science. It is much more difficult. Or to paraphrase Winston Churchill, valuing patents is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Measuring even a well-delineated permanent entity is much more difficult than may be imagined. As Neil deGrasse Tyson (a renowned astrophysicist) and Benoit Mandelbrot (the father of fractal geometry) have discussed, no one really knows what the circumference of the coastline of the United Kingdom is. The tides will cause varying

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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.
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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

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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

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“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

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The NY Times is Wrong: Patent Auctions Do Not Provide Indendent Inventors with “Protection”

Patent auctions will do little to help independent inventors sell their patents
Patent auctions will do little to help independent inventors sell their patents
Those seeking ways to generate revenue from their patentable ideas will find the recent NY Times article entitled "Patent Auctions Provide Protections for Inventors," written by Steve Lohr, to be an interesting read.  However, as someone who works with entrepreneurs and corporations wishing to monetize their patent rights, I find it necessary to comment on the assertion that patent auctions can operate to "provide protections" for independent inventors, as well as the underlying premise that these it is generally possible for non-corporate inventors to generate value from their patent rights irrespective of the underlying subject matter of the patents.*  As an initial matter, the NY Times article states that "[independent inventors] can often find themselves in court, battling

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Reality Check for Inventors: Most Corporations Will Not Give Your Idea a First Look. Here’s Some Reasons Why.

Many people assume that corporations will readily consider good ideas from external sources, presumably because from the outside it makes sense to do so.  That is, why should a corporation spend the time and money to create something from scratch if someone else has invented a product or technology that is a good fit and can be acquired at a reasonable cost?  Against this assumption, countless numbers of inventors have expended considerable time, money and hopes on patenting their inventions and submitting them to corporations for review. 
The sad truth is that most of the money and efforts of these hopeful inventors are wasted.  Few corporations today have policies that make it possible for their employees to gather unsolicited ideas from outside of their existing employee or supplier base.  Ideas sent to the corporation by outside inventors rarely get reviewed for merit by the relevant business teams.  Rather, after the inventor submitting the idea is

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A Response to PWC’s "Starry-Eyed" View of the Value of Litigation as Effective Way to Monetize Patents

rose colored glassesI recently became aware of this patent litigation analysis prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (“PWC”) (hat tip: Marcus Malek of the Intangitopia blog). The report appears to be rigorously prepared from data obtained from a large number of reported patent litigation cases dating from 1995. I read this report with interest and think that anyone who is interested in the ROI of patent enforcement should read it also. The data provide a wealth of information for anyone even thinking about bringing a patent case or who is involved in defending against claims of patent infringement. Although the data in the PWC provides informational value, I nonetheless have a big problem with the following assertion that is prominently presented on page 18 under the title “What This Means for Your Business”: "In light of the findings in this study, patent

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The IP Zone: A New Concept for Introducing Needed Information and Efficiencies into the Patent Monetization Market

Many corporations and entrepreneurs today understand that patents are increasingly bought, sold and traded, just like many other assets. However, the patent monetization market is only just emerging and, as a result, few information sources exist today to assist patent owners in selling their patents. The nascent nature of the industry also means that most patent owners do not themselves possess the necessary expertise to successfully monetize their patents. Put simply, today, patent monetization is "easier said than done." In view of the challenges currently faced by patent owners seeking to generate revenue by monetizing their patents, I was intrigued to learn about the "IP Zone" to be established later in 2009 in the Harlem area of New York City. The IP Zone will be physically located at 125st Street and Lenox Avenue in the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, which was established in the mid-1990's to provide enhanced job