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.
The value of patents covering computer programs and related technologies has arguably been the hardest hit by recent legislative reforms, new jurisprudence and anti-IP sentiment. But those looking to buy, sell and license software patents have no reason to give up hope just yet.
In a transaction characteristic of today’s patent marketplace, Qualcomm announced this week that it has licensed its wireless charging technology for electric vehicles to automotive parts manufacturer Lear Corporation. Under the terms of the agreement, Lear will include Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging technology among its product offerings for clients including automotive manufacturers and vehicle-charging infrastructure companies.
US company Universal Display Corporation (UDC) has acquired a patent portfolio relating to organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology from Germany’s BASF for €87 million (approximately US$96 million). The deal shows that even in today’s tough climate, there is still appetite for high-value patent purchases if the right conditions exist.
One of the most frustrating things about the patent marketplace is its scarcity of information on price points. When a deal is publicly announced or reported in the press, it often lacks detail on just how much money has exchanged hands. Transacting parties have various reasons for withholding such information; and even if it were regularly made available, it is arguable what impact, if any, it would have on the pricing of patents more generally.