Google’s 2015 Patent Purchasing Program
Some may remember the Patent Purchase Promotion, which was a streamlined program offered by Google in the Spring of 2015. Google created a streamlined portal, where anyone who was a patent owner, or had the legal right from the patent owner to sell a patent, could submit their patents to Google for consideration to purchase. Google would notify the patent owner of their desire to purchase or not purchase the submitted patent in an expedited period. These patent owners that received offers were given a take-it-or-leave-it fixed price with no negotiations. A unique feature of this program was, once Google had purchased the patent, the seller then retained a license to use the patent for the life of the patent. This meant that the seller could infringe on the patent without the risk of Google suing them for patent infringement, which would be helpful if it was an apparatus or method the seller wanted to continue to practice or sell/manufacture.
According to Google, the Patent Purchase Program was an experimental marketplace that was created to improve the patent landscape by hopefully removing some of the friction that existed in the secondary patent market. This friction in the secondary patent market Google was referring to is patent trolls.
Patent trolls are companies or individuals that buy up patents in bulk and go around suing others for patent infringement and are often non-practicing entities. Non-practicing entities are patent holders who hold patents without actually manufacturing or practicing the subject of the patent themselves. These patent trolls often pick on small and medium sized companies by threatening them with expensive patent infringement lawsuits, and forcing them to pay a settlement because the companies are unable to afford to defend themselves in such suits.
This patent purchasing program made waves, and was billed as Google’s way of outsmarting the patent trolls, and disarming the trolls by buying patents before they become weapons.
New 2017 Patent Purchasing Program
Non-profit group Allied Security Trust and members, an association of companies that buys patents on behalf of its member, announced on Monday, May 1st that it is holding another round of its patent-buying marketplace known as IP3, Industry Patent Purchase Program. The group consists of over 30 members including Google, Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Sony Corp. and others. This program was molded after the above-mentioned 2015 patent buying program launched by Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
This program will begin accepting offers from patent owners and brokers starting on August 1st, 2017 and accept submissions for two months. The program fuses on “trying to get some good quality assets for our members and reduce the risk of those being a threat in the future,” CEO of Allied Security Trust Russell Binns told Bloomberg BNA.
This years program comes with a twist not present in the past. The program will specifically be looking for patents in five categories: wireless, video distribution, networking, communications and internet-connected devices.
Other Patent Purchasing Programs
Uber, the ride-hailing company, which is participating in IP3 in 2017, also rolled out its own patent purchasing program in April to boost their intellectual property portfolio. Uber has said it will also have sellers offer patents at a fixed price to eliminate lengthy negotiations, and the fixed price purchasing model is becoming more attractive due to the quicker turnaround.
Without knowing for sure what the company that may want to purchase your patent intent is, if you are considering selling your patent, make sure you hire an attorney you trust to advise you through the entire process. You and your attorney should read the contract line for line and word for word so you are fully aware of aspects of any potential sale. Google today points to the “fine print” on its Patent Website, and advises sellers to speak with attorneys before filling out any submission. Bold IP patent attorneys are ready to assist in any intellectual property matters.
Author: Derek Clements, Patent Attorney