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The “new normal” is focus of IP Business Congress in Barcelona

With traditional patent strategies under pressure to show that they are still relevant, business as usual in the IP space is no longer the same.

Patent-adverse laws and more circumspect courts have forced owners worldwide to rethink how best to obtain, evaluate and utilize patents. The added scrutiny also has encouraged new, more collaborative IP business models and to reconsider ways of generating ROI.

This year’s IP Business Congress (IPBC Global) at the Arts Hotel in Barcelona, June 5-7. 6a00d8341c1ad253ef019aff9b0225970d-800wi 2016 will be host to more than 75 presenters and 600 attendees. It marks the ninth IPBC Global, the leading event for the business of IP value creation.

The keynote session, “Welcome to the new normal,” will feature the head or co-head of IP at Microsoft, SAP, LG and Google, and the former director of IP business at Sony. An IP executive from Ericsson will moderate.

Rapid Evolution

“New challenges posed by a rapidly evolving global IP market have caused many affected by IP to re-think ways of doing business,” said Joff Wild, Editor of IAM magazine and lead IPBC Global producer. “Developments in Europe and Asia are creating a more international ecosystem, and assertion-based monetization programs are becoming harder to implement in the U.S.”

This year’s IPBC Global sessions include:

  • Welcome to the new normal
  • Meeting the Chief IP officer challenge
  • Peace not war
  • Insider the inter partes review regime
  • Quality trumps quantity
  • Adapt or die
  • The Alice effect
  • Europe’s chance to lead
  • Buyers’ market
  • Debate: Patents as an asset class

Bruce Berman (yes, me) has been asked to moderate a debate on a controversial topic, “Patents as an asset class.” I will have my work cut out for me: It has frequently been claimed that patents are an asset class and should be treated as such by owners and investors. However, others vehemently disagree. They argue that promoting them in this way does more harm than good. Who is right?

Make Your Voice Heard

Readers who plan to attend the conference are encouraged to stop by the IP asset discussion. Members of the audience will be equipped with devices that permit them to cast their vote for against patents as assets at the end of the debate.Logo120x60

IP CloseUp readers who register will receive as 20% discount if they use the registration code IPBC16IPCU.

As usual at IPBC, there will be a host of good networking and private meeting opportunities, and the Catalan back-drop ought to make things even more intriguing. Barcelona is one of Europe’s top technology hubs, and recently was named the world’s “Most Wired City.”

For program and speaker information go here. To register go here.

Image source: ipbusinesscongress.com; http://superflat.typepad.com/

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Video Interview: “Investor Pressure Helped to Secure Rockstar Deals”

Opportunities still exist to monetize patents for those willing to do their homework and adjust expectations, veteran patent licensing executive Bob Bramson, a WiLAN director, told IP CloseUp in an exclusive interview.

There is a common theme running through Rockstar’s recent $188M settlement with Cisco, its litigation against Asian handset makers, including Samsung, and sale of 4,000 patents to a group led by RPX for $900M: Patent holders with solid patents and realistic expectations can still find success.

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Despite impediments like IPRs, software-adverse decisions like CLS Bank v. Alice, and aggressive anti-NPE lobbying, significant patent agreements are stilling being transacted. The key to their success, says Bramson, who is responsible for more than 1,000 patent licenses and sales over a 40 year career, is quality and need.

“Licensing is about money,” says the patent attorney and strategist who was recorded in our offices in late December. “Surely, the sugar-plum visions of a few years ago need to be rethought, but that does not mean there aren’t good opportunities out there for those willing to conduct the necessary due diligence. Patent monetization is about risk and reward, and if after careful analysis the potential damages are still there, then you at least have the basis of discussion. The last thing a patent monetizer wants to do is win the battle but lose the war.

“Rumor has it that the Rockstar deal got done because of pressures exerted by some of their investors, notably Apple and Microsoft. There is a complex network of relationships and needs that fuel agreements between big parties, and direct revenue is frequently only a part of it.”

Patent Value in Perspective

While it’s difficult to calculate the precise current value of Rockstar (the company) based on its December 23rd patent sale to RPX, it is safe to say that it is a quarter to a half of the $4.5B that it’s investors, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Ericsson, EMC and

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 10.41.00 AMBlackberry, paid in 2011. That said, $1B to $2B value on a single patent portfolio in the current anti-enforcement environment is nothing to sneeze at.

These investors also had complex needs and unique resources, the most important of which appeared to be keeping the patents out of Google’s hands. In Apple and Microsoft’s case, they also had huge amounts of cash on their balance sheet to deploy.

“I expect that there will be a clearing out of patent monetization businesses in the next couple of years,” continues Bramson, who founded and served as CEO of InterDigital Technology Corp. “But that’s not to say there aren’t still opportunities out there. Smartphones are one of many industries that rely on patents to compete. Sectors like medical technology and smart cars are heating up, and 3-D printing is likely to be huge.”

Watch the interview with Bob Bramson by clicking here.

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Image source: IP CloseUp 

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Mobile & Other Patents will Play a Role in Pantech Bankruptcy Sale

Expect a transaction to yield some clues about which smart phone-related patents are interesting, what they are worth and to whom.

Struggling South Korean handset maker, Pantech, announced this week that it is up for sale. Pantech’s financial troubles could be other technology companies’ gains, especially if they are interested in cracking the lucrative Korean smart phone market.

A Pantech sale for all or parts of the company also will test the volatile market for US cell phone patents many businesses and NPEs still covet.

After filing the equivalent to Chapter 11 bankruptcy  earlier this year patent-rich Pantech, which sells in the US through AT&T, Verizon and others, announced recently that it was for sale.

Envision IP published a report yesterday that provides a snapshot of Pantech’s patent portfolio. While the size of the portfolio is only a fraction of Samsung’s (60,000 total US patents) and LG’s (30,000), the patents it contains, a number covering signal transmission, appear to be similarly valid based on citation analysis.

Pantech currently owns 291 US patents, with 269 utility patents and 22 design patents. Pantech also owns 2,654 foreign patents, with the 2,239 of these being Korean patents, and 211 European patents.

“In terms of reverse and forward citations, the portfolios of all three companies are relatively comparable,” said Maulin Shah of Envision IP. “The citation analysis indicates that Pantech’s patents, on average, are technically as strong as Samsung’s patents from a validity standpoint, based strictly on the reverse citation count.  With regards to how

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innovative Pantech’s patents are to the mobile device sector, the patents appear slightly less fundamental than both LG and Samsung’s patents, based strictly on the forward citation count.”

Korean network carrier SK Telecom has been considered the front-runner for the bid. Other Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai Motor Group have also been mentioned as potential buyers. (In 2013 Samsung acquired a 10% stake in the struggling company.)

No US or European buyers have been named.

“The possibility of a foreign company nabbing Pantech is also very real,” reports CNET. “Earlier in April, an Indian consumer electronics giant, Micromax, had considered buying a sizeable stake in Pantech. Chinese handset makers Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi could all benefit from acquiring Pantech, forging entry into the nigh-impenetrable Korean handset market.”

Image source: pantechusa.com; envisionip.com

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$12.5b Motorola Sale Nets $1b for “Activist” IP Investor Carl Icahn

Recognition of Patent Value Results in Big Shareholder Win –

In developments discussed recently in IP CloseUp, activist IP investor Carl Icahn has made a truly historic impact on the wireless and intellectual property industries with the sale of Motorola Mobility to Google for $12.5 billion.

A couple of weeks ago in an SEC filing Icahn put pressure on Motorola Mobility management, demanding it explore the sale of patents in the wake of the Nortel’s $4.5 billion auction. This move resulted in yesterday’s announcement.

His 26.8 million shares are now worth over $1 billion, up from $655.8 million on Friday. They were worth less than $500 million when Icahn filed an amended 13D on July 20 to suggest that management explore patent sale options. Icahn also urged Motorola two years ago to split into the company into two entities, the Droid-owning Mobility (MMI) and Motorola Solutions (MSI).

It appears that patent-hungry Google has come away a winner, with more than 17,000 focused patents and about 4,000 applications. It also has acquired a business that appears to be in the turnaround mode, reporting strong profits. Shares of InterDigital, whose patents had been sought by Google, dropped just under 20% on Monday. InterDigital will likely continue to be pursued by other smartphone providers, probably at a lower valuation.

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Yet to be answered: What will the deal mean to Google’s Android users like HTC, Samsung, Kyocera and LG?

With Motorola, Google be competing more directly with them in smartphones. Might its OEM partners choose to seek an operating system like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 or other non-competitive alternatives. Microsoft and Nokia already have agreed to work together.

If so, a Google hardware spin-off may be not-too-far down the road.

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Icahn’s victory is not without its dark side: According to Fortune, “Based on Google’s $40 per share acquisition price, Icahn’s MMI stake currently is valued at around $1.07 billion. His MSI position is at around $1.23 billion. If we add that to the $1 billion in earlier disposals, Icahn has realized or holds around $3.3 billion in Motorola and its successor companies. That’s just 3.5% below Icahn’s original investment — or $120 million — compared to the double-digit percentage losses he previously was facing. For example, he was down more than $700 million when Bloomberg did its math.”

This is not the first time good patents have bailed out investors. It won’t be the last.

Image source: onenewspage.co.uk


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