October 19, 2016
The FTC published their long awaited Patent Assertion Entity (PAE) study earlier this month. They conclude that there are two types of PAEs, “Portfolio PAEs” and “Litigation PAEs”, where they are defined by their approaches to licensing. Portfolio PAEs approach companies with a request for a portfolio license. Whilst these were only some 9% of the studied PAEs, they accounted for 80% of the revenues. Conversely, Litigation PAEs file cases and then seek settlements and licenses to a small number of patents at once, and accounted for the remaining majority of the studied PAEs.
The report then looked at specifics to do with their approaches and concluded that the actions of PAEs justify patent reform. This isn’t really news itself, and subsequent analyses by IPWatchdog and IAMinstead cite that the main conclusion from the study is in fact the formal distinction to use to distinguish frivolous PAEs seeking small settlements and those who hold high-quality assets and seek licenses, showing that not all PAEs are the same and that some will probably uphold their business more easily after recent legislative changes aimed at reducing the number of frivolous demands.
The UK’s patent box scheme was launched in time for FY2013-14 and was aimed at helping small, innovative companies by allowing them some tax relief on patented products in the hope of driving innovation. However, the first data for the scheme has been launched and shows that there were only 700 applications in 2013-14, which is estimated at less than 5% of the potential relief claims. This low take-up rate has been blamed on the perceived complexity of using the system, and the fears associated with getting it wrong.
Given this has provided average relief per claim of £2.34m for information & communication, financial & insurance and real estate sectors, and £332k for the professional, scientific & technical sectors, one could argue that it is definitely worth hiring IP specialists to assist with this process to help navigate through the risks and complexities.
Bitcoin’s underpinning technology is the distributed, peer to peer ledger system called blockchain, and is the subject of numerous patents. It now appears that major financial institutions are looking to move to a blockchain system, with a recent analysis in IP Watchdog looking at Goldman Sachs’ developments and interests in the tech. It is thought that a blockchain-like system could apply in many fields, such as identity verification, and is tipped as a fast-moving tech sector, and is likely to be rich in valuable IP.