Posts in Licensing

Exclusive Interview: Paul Ryan, CEO of Acacia Research Part II

What you think of Ryan and Acacia is almost entirely dependent upon the side of the aisle on which you sit; namely whether you are an innovator or a practicing entity. Even more specifically, those who are innovators but don’t have a voice loud enough to be heard by practicing entities are likely to believe that Ryan and Acacia are the answer to their prayers. Those practicing companies that simply want to make a product and sell it without regard to the underlying patents that might be in place are likely to believe Ryan and Acacia are the poster children for everything wrong with the patent system. But you can decide for yourself. Without further ado, here is the culmination of the interview with Paul Ryan.

Exclusive Interview: Paul Ryan, CEO of Acacia Research

Paul Ryan is a more common name than you might think. In the world of politics when one speaks of “Paul Ryan” they are talking about the Republican Congressman from Wisconsin who was Mitt Romney’s running-mate and would-have-been Vice President. But in the intellectual property world, particularly the patent litigation world, the name “Paul Ryan” refers to the CEO of Acacia Research Technologies. It is the later Paul Ryan that went on the record with me to discuss Acacia, patent enforcement, how large companies who are infringers disregard innovative independent inventors and more.

CAFC Favors Non-Practicing Entities on “Domestic Injury”

Recently the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, denied Nokia’s petition for rehearing. The Federal Circuit decision is nevertheless interesting for its treatment of Section 337’s “domestic industry” requirement as it is applied to NPEs. Under 19 U.S.C. §1337(a)(2), relief at the Commission is predicated on the existence or establishment of an industry in the United States “relating to the articles protected by the patent.” This is commonly known as the “domestic industry” requirement. In turn, section 1337(a)(3) provides that an industry is considered to exist if there is in the United States, “with respect to the articles protected by the patent,” significant investment in plant or equipment, significant employment of labor or capital, or “substantial investment in [the patent’s] exploitation, including engineering, research and development, or licensing” (emphasis added).

DOJ: Patent Licenses Should Discharge in Bankruptcy

The dispute at issue here regarding Qimonda arose when the company went bankrupt and seven licensees invoked the protection of § 365(n) to retain patent rights. This became an issue because there is no similar provision on German law, thus there is an attempt to nullify the patent licenses. This would force the seven licensees to open fresh negotiations or face expensive patent infringement litigation which they could not hope to prevail in since they are almost certainly infringing.

Taking Directions from the Lost

The report ignores actual practice. Universities rarely have multiple companies fighting to license their inventions. They’re lucky to find one. The rule of thumb is that a promising university technology requires 5-7 years of private sector development to turn into a product. For a drug, double the time and add a billion dollars in costs. Exclusive licenses are often essential to justify such risks.

(Numbers) and IP Licensing Agreements

Now, for those of you paying attention, you will notice that the spelled out numbers do not match the digits appearing in parentheticals. Why do attorneys do this? What class in law school do they teach this? I’m told this is a practice that dates back to the days of carbon copies and “old school” telefax machines, where parties needed two chances to be able to discern the figures in legal documents.

Talking Tech Transfer with Todd Sherer, AUTM President, Part II

Todd Sherer: “And what we’re seeing, what the AUTM survey is showing, is that patent budgets are going down. And that’s of concern to me, because everything has to go through that funnel. You can do a lot of research, basic and then applied research and have translational funding, but that technology has to come through the Tech Transfer Office and through the patent budget. So it doesn’t do us a lot of good just to have funding targeted at programs at the front end of that funnel to try to shove it through, through the right limiting step, or pull it out the other side. We need to also be mindful of the fact that we need to invest in those fundamentals, that patent and licensing part. Because we’ve also seen that the number of licensing professionals has gone down over the last couple of years in the Tech Transfer Offices. So, what we don’t want to see is that trend continue. We don’t want to see the number of our staff go down and the patent budgets go down at a time when we want to improve impact.”

Tech Transfer: A Conversation with AUTM President Todd Sherer

Todd Sherer, Ph.D. is the director of technology transfer at Emory University, and is also currently President of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). Recently AUTM concluded its annual survey and found, not surprisingly, that University technology licensing has substantial positive impact on the U.S. economy. On the heels of that survey I reached out to my friends at AUTM and requested an interview with Sherer. Our interview took place on Friday, December 14, 2012. During our interview we talked about the nearly constant challenges to gut Bayh-Dole, which is the very foundation of university technology licensing and the piece of legislation called the most successful domestic legislation in the post World War II era by none other than The Economist. We also discussed what it is that universities do and how, despite what the critics say, the basic research done by universities is hardly ready for the marketplace.

Defensive Patent Pools: There are Surprisingly Few Options

Unlike NPEs, defensive patent pools entities do not (at least initially) seek to generate revenues. Rather, they charge admission fees into the pool to fund IP acquisitions and the administrative costs to operate the pool. In sum, defensive patent pool aggregation is analogous to an insurance policy. But, where classic insurance lowers a company’s costs when accidents happen, patent pools are designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents (i.e., being sued for patent infringement) from happening at all.

University Tech Licensing Has Substantial Impact on Economy

In the case of product sales, 58 institutions (31 percent of the 186 respondents) reported that 2,821 of their licenses paid $662 million in running royalties based on $37 billion in product sales, implying an average royalty rate of 1.8 percent. In the case of startups, 66 institutions (35 percent of the 186 respondents) reported employment of 24,653 by 1,731 operational startups, an average of 14 employees per startup. Assuming all 3,927 startups still operational averaged 14 employees, total employment would have been 55,929.

Patent Pooling Is an Effective Tool for IP Monetization

When the media paints images of all patents being bad they are doing a disservice to the industry and ignoring the good that has come from patented innovation and the sharing of such innovation via patent pools and other cross-licensing arrangements. Patent pooling is one example of a proven, effective tool that is helping industry better manage its licensing programs. By “pooling” patents from many license holders, licensors generally are able to lower transaction costs and administrative overhead, and benefit from a centralized model that encourages patent bundling and fair play. Licensees likewise enjoy advantages in the form of lower royalty fees and a single point of contact that eliminates the need to negotiate separately with multiple license holders.

Plucking the Golden Goose Won’t Help Patients

Several public interest groups recently filed a march in petition under the Bayh-Dole Act asking NIH to force Abbott Laboratories to license its competitors for the production of Ritonavir, a drug used to treat AIDS.  Drug developers face a daunting task. For every 5,000 drugs tested, about five proceed to clinical trials. Perhaps one is eventually approved.  That one must not only pay for itself, but for all the company’s other drugs that died along the way. This grim math eludes the petitioners.

Patent Litigation Settlement Roundup

On November 8, 2012, Mylan Inc. (Nasdaq: MYL) announced that it, along with Famy Care Ltd., has entered into a settlement agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. that will resolve patent litigation related to Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo® Tablets, which are indicated for the prevention of pregnancy in women who elect to use oral contraceptives as a method of contraception. Also on November 8, Research Affiliates, LLC and WisdomTree Investments, Inc. (NASDAQ: WETF) announced that Research Affiliates will withdraw its patent infringement lawsuit brought against WisdomTree and pay WisdomTree $700,000. On October 31, 2012, Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq:ACTG) announced that its subsidiaries settled patent litigation with Medtronic and Comcast Cable in unrelated cases.

Copyright Issues on the Legislative Agenda for 2012-2013

Though they are unlikely to take center stage during the truncated session before elections or the post-election lame duck session, lawmakers will have to contend with several key copyright issues during the 113th Congress. Thus, no matter who wins on November 6, IP leaders in the House and Senate are likely to use the remainder of this calendar year to set the stage for next year’s copyright agenda. The priority copyright issues for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 are: (1) Anti Piracy Initiatives; (2) Internet Issues; (3) International Agreements; (4) Music Licensing; (5) Book Licensing; and (6) TV Broadcast Issues. Each is discussed more fully below.

The Smart Phone Patent Wars: Is Government Action on the Horizon?

Last month, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives held hearings related to patent disputes, the ITC, SSOs and FRAND licensing – no doubt precipitated by the smart phone patent wars. On July 11, 2012, the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Impact on Competition of Exclusion Orders to Enforce Standard-Essential Patents.” Witnesses at the Senate hearing included the Acting Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A week later, on July 18, 2012, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held a hearing entitled “The International Trade Commission and Patent Disputes.” Witnesses at the House hearing included Professor Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University School of Law, IP Counsel for Ford, VP of Litigation for Cisco, the General Counsel of Tessera Technologies, and the President of The American Antitrust Institute (AAI).