IP & Tech Disposals and Acquisitions
To fully maximise the value of your portfolio, it is important to identify what assets you would benefit from owning and what assets could generate more value to you through a patent sale. Often the best way for your technology company to defend its products and gain the freedom to operate is to acquire specific patents that support your strategic business objectives and address your competitors’ business as well. It may be that you have concerns about patent assertion from a third party and want to acquire patents to counter-assert.
Additionally, it can help you put your competition at a disadvantage by preventing them from utilizing specific inventions. Strategically acquiring patents can give you ownership of proven IP, focused on technology that matters now, with the broad protection afforded by patents filed by early innovators. When you acquire strong, granted patents, you have the opportunity to leverage your IP to address immediate competitive concerns and use them in current cross-licensing discussions with other companies so you can have access to specific technologies you may need.
On the other hand, you may have a handful of patents that are highly valuable to the market, but no longer align with your business objectives. With thoughtful analysis, these patents can be identified and sold to generate revenue. Understanding their potential impact to the market enables you to identify potential buyers who would have a vested interest in your tech.
Closed innovation can lead to the negative outcome of reinventing the wheel to a high degree and unnecessary R&D expenditures. Companies should buy or license technologies or inventions from external partners and dispose or license out those internal inventions not being used. This is the attitude adopted by many of the world’s most innovative companies.
Google bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, primarily for its patent portfolio. Even leaving aside this deal, Google still buys over 1000 US patents a year on average between 2010 and 2015 based on US reassignment data whereas Apple and Samsung acquired about 500 US patents a year in the same period.
Innovation threats from emerging markets can no longer be ignored. We know that China is patenting more. But do you know that China is also buying more? In fact, it is the only country whose patent purchasing transactions has increased in recent year. We think, for a technology company to stay ahead of the game, you need to include patent acquisition into your company’s IP portfolio growth plan alongside patent filings. There are at least 3 key benefits:
Patents vary in quality, which means you need to be selective. Also, the patents you need rarely come to the market – they need to be found. To know what you need to buy (or sell), you need to have insights into what your competition or target is doing or is likely to do. The next step is to consider what products the ‘to be acquired patents’ will impact or protect. From there, you need to be able to identify key patents (not necessarily on the market) research and analyse the value of specific patents or portfolios in third-party hands and make approaches to determine if a sale is possible and to negotiate pricing. This requires skill and experience but is necessary to ensure you are buying the right patents for the right price.
Our team of experts is highly skilled at pinpointing specific patents that will be beneficial to our clients. We analyse the product to be protected or the target to be assessed and pinpoint the technologies that have an economic impact. We then use our proprietary tools to analyse patents that might be suitable and refine this list by considering the sellers, scope of the patents and likely validity.
Armed with that knowledge, we discuss in detail your objectives and budget before making approaches. Often we prepare claim charts to demonstrate the relevance of the potential purchase or sale. Approaches to sellers are often made anonymously on your behalf to protect the identity of your organization during the purchasing process. Finally, we assist in setting the seller’s expectations, negotiating a purchase and drawing up suitable documents to conclude the transaction.
For defensive purposes, clients may want to purchase patents which are in use. However, patents which are not infringed now may still be infringed when the industry catches up with the invention. Such patents carry high future value. Good quality patents are the ones which align with your business strategy. We can mine large patent datasets to identify the assets matching your technology requirements. We have proprietary methodologies to evaluate patents. We not only look at the technology scope but also help you acquire patents matching your business need.
Buying patents is an investment associated with intrinsic risk. You don’t want to fall into the trap of buying a patent whose value is diminishing or with a high risk of being invalidated. Thorough due-diligence is required to identify such pitfalls and to reveal the potential value the patent may bring. Such knowledge can become valuable information for price negotiations in a later stage.
Patents can be purchased and sold in the open market or through a brokerage firm. We can represent clients anonymously to negotiate the sale.
Patent acquisition requires careful management, timing, and negotiation skills. With our expertise and experience, we offer a streamlined process for looking for and finding the most valuable and suitable patents to acquire.
As added value, our clients often learn in-depth knowledge about their chosen technology field throughout the process, whether IP intelligence of a competitor or an emerging NPE risk.
For those highly relevant patents identified in the process, even if a deal cannot be reached, it is useful to know the existence of such assets because they may be asserted against you at some point in the future. Knowing the existence of such risks will prevent you from being caught off-guard by competitors, patent trolls, and licensing companies.