WiLAN announced last week that it will shift from being a patent pure play to become a diversified holding company, enabling it to invest in businesses beyond IP monetisation. While the Canadian NPE is not exiting the scene altogether, its move represents another blow for the secondary market after Intellectual Ventures (IV) confirmed the cessation of its patent buying activities earlier this month.
Uber has announced that it is establishing a patent buying programme modelled on similar initiatives recently launched by Google and a consortium led by defensive aggregator Allied Security Trust (AST).
Patent pool operator Via Licensing has introduced extensive royalty rate changes for its Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) offerings, as it continues to test out innovative strategies aimed at increasing licence uptake among a new generation of Asian smartphone and tablet makers.
In a sign of just how tough and unpredictable the monetisation market has become, three of the biggest names in the game reported a drop in annual patent-related revenues during 2016.
Back in July, IAM Market’s Knowledge Centre reported on the acquisition of Longitude Licensing – the Irish firm formed in 2013 to manage and monetise the patents of bankrupt Japanese semiconductor company Elpida. The buyer was private equity player Vector Capital, which also owns IP strategy consultancy IPVALUE and possesses a stake in seasoned technology licensor Technicolor.
It has often been said that as US courts, legislators and lobbyists make it progressively difficult to enforce and license patents in the country, rights holders will turn their attentions to foreign markets like China in order to monetise their IP portfolios. In doing so, however, many patent owners will need to adopt different tactical approaches. Two developments in recent weeks suggest that, at least for some IP owners, this strategic shift is already in full swing.
Patent data firm IFI Claims recently published its annual listing of the 1,000 entities that received the most US patent grants over the past 12 months. IAM Market vendor IBM topped the ranking for the 24th consecutive year, receiving a recordbreaking 8,088 patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2016.
Patent risk management firms RPX and Unified Patents have each started the new year by releasing preliminary numbers on US patent lawsuits filed in 2016. With figures dramatically down year on year – as many market observers would no doubt have expected – it may seem obvious to conclude that patent transaction deal flow will also drop-off over the next 12 months. But there may be reason to believe that demand for third-party patent assets could be boosted as would-be plaintiffs seek out new targets.
Defensive aggregator Allied Security Trust has released data on its Industry Patent Purchase (IP3) patent-buying programme, which closed earlier this year. The figures give a useful insight into current asking prices for patents covering a range of technologies and markets.
Over the past few weeks, the IAM Market blog has published a few sneak peaks from its brand new overview of the Asia-Pacific patent transactions marketplace. So far, we’ve analysed the sales, purchase and licensing opportunities in China and Japan; in our final excerpt, we take a look at the landscape in Korea.