May 11, 2017
AST announces the launch of a new version of their Industry Patent Purchase Program, IP3. The 2017 version of IP3 is focused on patents covering five areas: the Internet of Things, wireless, content delivery/video distribution, networking and communications. This year, interested sellers have a larger window of time to consider selling (submissions won’t be accepted until Aug 1st and will be accepted until Sept 30th). Last year, IP3 only lasted 2 weeks.
Why it is Interesting
Whereas last time companies were able to decide upon how much funding to contribute up front, this year they are able to put funds into the pot after reviewing the assets available. “That’s more in line with our normal AST process,” Binns pointed out. The change is part of a drive to focus more on the quality of assets in this year’s initiative. “The more high-quality assets we get, the more our members will invest into the acquisition of them,” Binns said.
In our last newsletter, we included our overview of Uber’s patent purchasing program, which was modeled off of IP3. When we posted the article we received some negative commentary around the secondary patent market. Clearly, AST is taking what they learned from IP3 2016 to make IP3 2017 more effective. The idea still has legs and could be the way forward for large patent purchase initiatives in the future.
Snapchat has filed a patent for image-based tracking in AR systems. The database utilizes less processing power by linking GPS data to an image database and allows users to impose images into their surroundings. Adi Robertson, journalist for The Verge described it as follows,
“Snapchat could ask you to hold up your phone and capture pictures of where you are. Since it would know your location, it could match those pictures against a limited set of data and figure out what’s around you. Instead of trying to map depth and perspective on the fly, the app would grab information about the space you’re in, then use it to place objects in a preprogrammed way that looks realistic.”
Why it Matters
Pokemon Go was incredibly popular on launch, with virtual animals in the real world proving to be a great concept for a game. This could be the next step to something more immersive. Also, the competition to lead in this space is pretty fierce. Still, it’s possible to imagine some pretty exciting use cases, such as running from zombie hordes to perfect your marathon training or taking calls from your friend who could appear alongside you.
Facebook also has plans to weave AR into their product. Should make detecting fake news a little more difficult though.
A May 8, 2017, article in TechCrunch by Connie Loizos covers the recent bankruptcy filing of the US subsidiary of Berlin-backed search optimization company Searchmetrics. They have filed for bankruptcy protection to escape a patent battle with its US competitor BrightEdge. After an acquisition deal between the two fell through, Searchmetrics claims BrightEdge tried to prevent them from being successful in the US market by stealing their EU-protected IP and filing patents on it in the US. Filing for bankruptcy may help them avoid paying BrightEdge what they might win if a patent lawsuit were to go forward.
Why it Matters
If you think you’re going to do business in a particular jurisdiction, make sure your innovations are properly protected. Both companies are venture backed, both are ten years old, but BrightEdge has raised $30 million more dollars so they have a financial advantage. Filing for bankruptcy is a strategy, but it might not be a winning one, and they could be better off challenging the patents at the PTAB due to inventorship issues.
At ClearViewIP, we’ve seen a lot of interest from VCs wanting to help their investment companies strengthen their portfolios. This story is a good example of why VCs need to pay attention to IP matters, and that had Searchmetrics filed for protection in the US at the same time as they did elsewhere, then the IP issues could have been avoided beforehand.