AST to repeat IP3 patent-buying programme, with longer timeframe and focus on specific technologies

Defensive patent aggregator Allied Security Trust (AST) is relaunching its Industry Patent Purchase Promotion (IP3) after the success of the scheme’s inaugural run last year. For 2017, however, the programme will be managed slightly differently in order to better cater to AST’s members and enhance opportunities for prospective vendors to get involved.

The scheme will largely follow the template set by last year’s IP3 – which was itself modelled on the Patent Purchase Promotion run unilaterally by Google in 2015 – with would-be patent sellers given a limited timeframe in which to submit their asset packages to AST for consideration.

The 2017 version will have some different features to its predecessor, though. This time round, only AST’s 30 member companies can be involved on the buy side. This contrasts with the situation last year which saw AST manage the programme on behalf of a group of top tech companies, some of which were not its members.

Another difference for IP3 2017 will be a much longer submission period for prospective sales packages. Last year, vendors had only two weeks to put their patents up for consideration; this year, they will have almost two months. “A lot of sellers were not able to figure out what to sell within the time limit we gave them last year,” AST CEO Russell Binns told IAM, adding that the submission period had been extended after feedback indicating that some sellers – including larger operating companies in particular – wanted more time to consider potential divestments.

Unlike last year, the upcoming IP3 programme will focus on patents relating to five specific technology areas – the Internet of Things, wireless, content delivery and video distribution, and networking and communications. “The technology areas are supposed to let sellers focus because last year some were paralysed with indecision about what to sell,” said Binns. “The plan is that each iteration we do of this programme will be in a different technology area.”

Another change is that participating companies on the buy-side will be able to decide how much cash to contribute to the purchase fund after assets have been submitted and reviewed. Previously, they were required to commit a certain amount of cash into the common pot before any submissions had been received.

The first IP3 scheme – which ran between May 25 and June 10 last year – ended with the buying consortium making 56 offers to acquire 107 active patent filings at an average price per family of $96,000. Total spend was over $5.3 million, with individual purchase prices ranging between $10,000 and $325,000. Last month, Uber announced that it would be establishing its own patent purchase promotion based on AST’s.

Prospective sellers will be able to submit their patent packages – along with asking prices – to this year’s IP3 programme between August 1 and September 30. After reviewing the submissions, AST will notify sellers of their interest in potentially doing a deal by November 21. All transactions are expected to be completed by early 2018.

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