Posts in Licensing

The Good Steward – Turning Federal R&D into Economic Growth

By SENATOR BIRCH BAYH — What should we say about a steward that manages billions of dollars in public research funds not aimed at finding commercial products and turns them in to hundreds of billions of dollars in economic impact while supporting millions of jobs? You would think that a sincere “thank you” was in order. But many are saying that the system producing such riches is broken. Remarkable. The Bayh-Dole Act created no new bureaucracy, costs taxpayers nothing, and decentralized technology management out of Washington. It’s widely touted as a key in turning the U.S. economy around.

Weakening the ITC’s Patent Jurisdiction Will Harm US Economy

Licensing U.S. intellectual property strengthens the economy and improves our trade balance. Section 337, the statute that regulates unfair practices in import trade, is a key element of the nation’s trade laws and ensures that American innovators, including licensing companies, will not be harmed by the importation of goods that infringe valid and enforceable U.S. patents. Importers of foreign made products – both U.S. based and foreign companies – have appealed to Congress for several changes to Section 337 that would, in effect, limit access to the ITC and/or weaken the powers of the ITC to deal with cases of unfair trade practices. Weakening the ITC’s jurisdiction would benefit foreign economies, foreign competitors, and other foreign manufacturers to the detriment of the U.S. economy.

Patent Business: Deals, Acquisitions & Licenses Vol. 1

Merck and AstraZeneca Agree to Amend Partnership – Theradiag Acquires Innovative MicroRNA Technology Platform – 8×8 Sells Patent Family – MPEG LA Announces Call for Patents Essential HEVC – International Rectifier Enters Into Patent License Agreement – Acacia Subsidiary Acquires 156 U.S. and International Patents – Acacia Subsidiary Acquires Patents for X-Ray Powder Diffraction.

University Licensing and Biotech IPRs Good for the Economy

Earlier in the week BIO also unveiled another report it commissioned and which was authored by Lori Pressman, David Roessner, Jennifer Bond, Sumiye Okubo, and Mark Planting. This report, titled Taking Stock: How Global Biotechnology Benefits from Intellectual Property Rights, discusses the role of intellectual property rights in encouraging upstream research and development as well as downstream commercialization of biotechnology. More specifically, the report outlines how intellectual property rights and technology transfer mechanisms encourage collaboration and lead to the research and development of new biotechnologies, particularly in emerging and developing economies.

IP Exchange Brings Market Principles to Patent Rights Acquisition

It is also probably correct to say that the current business model for licensing technologies is extremely inefficient, not only because of the lack of a central clearinghouse, but because many of those who would be most interested in acquiring rights to exciting new technologies are really too small to attract the interest of patent owners. Even if they are large enough to attract interest from patent owners it take real time and real money to acquire rights. You don’t simply walk into a neighborhood bodega and order the rights to X technology for Y dollars, put it into your knapsack and walk away. Negotiations are hardly standard, must take into account multiple unique scenarios and are like any other business deal — unique. That requires attorneys to get involved and we all know what happens then, right? Too frequently attorneys get in the way of doing a deal rather than facilitate one.

Will an Intellectual Property Licensing Exchange Work?

Preventing artificial supply-side constraints? Now my spidey-senses are activated. That sure has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it? I am skeptical about the desire to eliminate market inefficiencies when combined with simultaneous attempts to drive down royalty payments, thereby compensating innovators only for some perceived benefit to the ultimate consumer. The goal of the first, to reduce inefficiencies in a bilateral licensing negotiation is laudable, but minimizing the “artificial supply side constraints” based on the market as viewed by the ultimate consumer is a recipe for undervaluing innovative value-adds. And let’s not forget that some (perhaps many) of these value-adds mean the difference between having desirable functionality or not, and having a viable product or not.

The Smart Phone Patent Wars: What are FRANDs For?

In all cases, the IEEE, JEDEC, ITU and TIA policies apply to both issued patents and pending applications (regardless of whether such applications are published). Further, all four policies make clear that the SSO will not get involved in the particulars as to what constitutes FRAND licensing practices. Interestingly, and for those paying attention, the IEEE, JEDEC and ITU policies require disclosure of essential patents, whereas the TIA policy simply encourages disclosure of essential patents. Again, there simply is no generally-accepted test to determine whether a particular license offer satisfies the reasonable aspect of an SSO participant’s FRAND commitment. How does this play out in practical terms? A recent case is instructive.

The Smart Phone Patent Wars: What the FRAND is Going On?

This all came to a head when, on February 22, 2012, Microsoft Corporation filed a formal competition law complaint against Google with European Union antitrust regulators. Microsoft’s complaint was brought about because Google (i.e., Motorola Mobility) “has refused to make its patents available at anything remotely close to a reasonable price” and “attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products.” Well isn’t Google’s “maximum per-unit royalty of 2.25% of the net selling price for the relevant end product” in compliance with FRAND!? If you consider that often dozens (and sometimes, hundreds) of patents cover a single device, the answer is a resounding “no.” At 2.25% per patent, it would take only about four dozen patents before the entire selling price would be paid in royalties – an obviously absurd result.

Track One By the Numbers. What are you Waiting for?

The USPTO has returned to the historical philosophy that patent examiners should work cooperatively with patent applicants to identify allowable subject matter and issue patents on what is allowable, not just focusing on rejection after rejection after rejection. While there are quite a few positive changes, with more in the works, Track One is by far the most successful policy initiative that has come to bear during the Kappos Administration. The only problem with Track One is that more applicants are not using it! What are you waiting for? A look at the numbers shows that Track One is a huge success and ought to be employed far more than it has been.

Setting the Record Straight on the Innovatio Patent Portfolio

Ray Niro responds — There is nothing disingenuous about the licensing and enforcement of the Innovatio IP patent portfolio. Nor is this effort about “forcing quick licensing agreements” on questionable patents. The earliest of the Innovatio patents resulted from the pioneering work of Ronald Mahany and Robert Meier of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the early 1990s. Mahany and Meier are widely considered to be the “Fathers of Radio Frequency Local Area Networking Technology” – commonly referred to as wireless local area networking (“WLAN”) or “Wi-Fi.”

Are Some Patent Holders More Equal Than Others?

What’s troubling is that Hewlett Packard itself, the original startup headquartered in a garage, was one of the earliest and most-respected leaders of the 20th Century high-tech revolution that had its epicenter in Silicon Valley. It was William Hewlett who gave a 13-year-old Steve Jobs spare parts for a device Jobs was building — and a summer job as well. And it was Mr. Hewlett and his executive heirs who insisted that HP conscientiously patent its breakthrough innovations and fight against those that infringed those patents. HP today earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually by licensing its patent rights to others — according to IAM magazine, “at any one time, HP has about 150 licensing transactions in process.” And as the court dockets show, it certainly isn’t shy about filing suit against infringers who refuse to take a license.

Are Patent Wars Good for America?

In short, today’s smartphone patent wars are simply “back to the future” when it comes to how disruptive new industries are developed. Every major technological and industrial breakthrough in U.S. history — from the Industrial Revolution to the birth of the automobile and aircraft industries on up to today’s Internet and mobile communications revolutions — has been accompanied by exactly the same surge in patenting, patent trading, and patent litigation that we see today in the smartphone business. This is how the rights to breakthrough new technologies have always been distributed to those best positioned to commercialize them — to the benefit of the whole nation in terms of new jobs, new medical advances, and new products and services.

Patent Mass Aggregators: The Giants Among Us

The types of returns promised to investors and the types of benefits offered to participants are also quite different from garden-variety non-practicing entities, as are some of the tactics used in organizing the entities and in asserting the patents. Finally, the scale itself is simply mind-boggling. Mass aggregators operate on a scale and at a level of sophistication and complexity that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. They have taken the prototype strategies pioneered by a prior generation of non-practicing entities and changed them into some of the cleverest strategies yet seen in the intellectual property rights field.

President Obama Orders Acceleration of Technology Transfer

Breakthroughs in science and engineering create foundations for new industries, new companies, and new jobs. This is undeniably true. The question is how do we unleash this engine of growth? I am in favor of streamlining the technology transfer process, but I believe that it needs to begin from within. Universities have to revise the view of their appropriate role. Universities are not supposed to be in the business of technology transfer to make money, but rather to facilitate the development of exciting new innovations while training the next generation of engineers and scientists. By developing exciting new innovations and then placing them into the private sector the University plays a vital role in the innovation economy. Under-funding and over-working technology transfer departments is counter-productive.

Jobs Council Seeks Open Source Approach to Tech Transfer

It would be bad enough if politicians did nothing once elected, but it seems that they have a knack for doing those things that will do the most harm. That is why one of the recommendations in the interim report has me rather concerned. On page 21 of the report the Jobs Council recommends: “the Administration should test an ‘open source’ approach to tech transfer and commercializations.” What does that even mean? It might sound good to some, and certainly is the “in thing” to recommend I suppose. After all, “open source” is the solution to all the problems of the world, right? Never mind that the open source community has yet to identify a long term, stable business model that makes money.