Tag Archives: patent damages

“NPEs generate higher damages awards,” 2017 litigation study finds

The disparity in patent damages awards between non-practicing and practicing entities favors NPEs and is growing wider. 

These findings, counter-intuitive to some, are part of the useful, just-published report from PwC, 2017 Patent Litigation Study – Change on the Horizon.

PwC’s analysis shows the continuation of a trend that began in the early 2000s: significantly higher damages awarded to NPEs relative to practicing entities.

The median damages award for NPEs was significantly higher than PEs in the last 15 years. While this disparity had narrowed to about 1.6x in the 2007–2011 period, in the most recent five-year period, the NPE median damages award climbed to 3.8x the median for practicing entities.

It is not clear if the findings are a result of NPEs owning better quality, more highly infringed patents than PEs, or that NPEs are simply more adept at enforcing them.

“The disparity has perplexed us for some time,” stated Chris Barry, one of the 2017 Litigation Study’s authors and a partner in PwC’s Forensics Practice. “Operating business that asserts patents typically are more interested injunctive relieve – halting a competitor’s product sales – than in generating revenue. Most patent cases are dismissed on summary judgment or settled.”

Higher Success Rate

Over a 20 year period from 1997 to 2016, PE’s have a higher success rate at trial than NPEs at trial, 36% vs. 25%, but a significantly lower recovery rate, $4.9 million vs. $11.5 million. For the 2012-2016 period, NPEs out generated PEs in damages by almost 4 to 1 (see above infograph). 

Among NPEs, universities fare best at trial with median damages awards of $16.3M, as opposed to $13M for NPEs and just $6.7M for individual inventors who enforce.

No information on trial costs was provided, although AIPLA tracks them by the size of the case. There also was no tracking of PTAB results or influence on patent litigation. Many law firms address this, as does Unified Patents.

Despite a handful of large, headline-grabbing patent damages awards – most of which are never paid – patent trials have been flat for almost three decades, with a little more than 100 disputes going to trial annually.

There are an estimated two million plus active U.S. patents.

For the full 2017 patent litigation report, go here.

 

Image source: PwC

 

Patent values are hit by uncertainty; operating co buying overtakes NPE

Three things are needed to succeed today in patent licensing: more capital, more patience and more good patents, which are in increasingly short supply. 

Uncertainty is the glue that binds weaker patents to cheaper ones.

Patent reliability is poorer than ever, in part because invalidating bad patents is now somewhat less arduous and costly. The courts are awarding fewer and lower damages awards, and defendants with time on their side and cash in their pockets, can play an even longer waiting game.

Increased uncertainty has encouraged more patent holders, mostly those operating companies that generate their inventions and rights internally, to consider purchases that they may not have previously. At “buyers’ market” prices, who can blame them? It will be interesting to see how uncertainty in the patent system will affect future R&D strategy and domestic patent filings.

With asking prices per asset trending down, and brokered patent sales lower, the percentage of packages sold is actually up significantly, as is opco buying.

The top buyers in 2015 Q1 according to Richardson Oliver Law Group, which tracks brokered patent transactions, were RPX, a Canadian numbered company, and Intellectual Ventures, for their Intellectual Investment Fund 3. These buyers accounted for 42% of all of the packages purchased in 2015 Q1 and RPX alone accounted for 28%. Other, much smaller buyers in Q1 include Apple and Philips.

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Listings are Down; Sold Packages Up

ROL indicates that patent deal listings (patent and application packages) are down 20% from 4Q 2014 to 1Q 2015, but that packages sold are up 88%. In an article in IAM earlier this year by ROL (see The brokered patent market 2014,), it was shown that corporate buyers have overtaken NPEs in 2013 and 2014, comprising 46% for the market versus 38% for NPEs.

Asking prices for US-issued patents monitored have fallen from $577,000 in 2012 to $360,000 in 2014, a fall of 37.6%. ROL’s latest broker sales stats can be found here.

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“Uncertainty rules,” my latest Intangible Investor, the July IAM Magazine looks at why confusion over new patent hurdles and lower damages awards is creating an opportunity for some companies to buy patents at lower prices and settle disputes more favorably. Subscribers can get it here.

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Don’t expect to see patent uncertainty to wane anytime soon.  Many operating companies and at least some NPEs will be sad to see it go.

 

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Image source: Richardson Oliver Law Group

ParkerVision v. Qualcomm: A Field Day for the Shorts?

ParkerVision v. Qualcomm is a unique patent dispute…

pitting two public IP licensing companies (PIPCOs) with decidedly different business models against each other. The case underscores an a weakness in the public IP licensing model. It can be addressed by providing better information about how the patent system works and managing shareholder expectations.

Qualcomm (QCOM), a certified tech giant that licenses chips used in practically every smart phone sold, and derives billions in profit from patent licensing. ParkerVision (PRKR) is a relative David vs.  giants,  with excellent rights but  more than $20 million in annual losses. It hast has never turned a profit.

Nose Dive

ParkerVision shares were down as much as 60% yesterday on almost 30 times its average daily volume because a Florida Central District Court in Orlando ruled that Qualcomm did not infringe willfully and that the damages award was “only” $173 million, about half of what was expected.

PRKR was up 75% on October 17, trading as high at $7.38 when the validity of its patents were upheld by the court last week.  PRKR had sought damages of $432 million and a wilfulness verdict, which  would have possibly tripled the award.

The market speculation regarding the damages that  PRKR could have won led to extreme volatility. Trading in PRKR shares was halted Wednesday afternoon pending the outcome of the court’s damages ruling. Ironically, a few other public licensing companies halted trading, too, in anticipation of the decision.

Costly Confusion

The audience that benefits most from confusion are the short sellers, who sometimes bid stocks up then bet they will dive, without concern for the RenderImagefundamentals, or, for that matter, the facts.  As long as the shorts are a step ahead of other investors’ timing they usually wind up winning.  Investment bankers also may benefit from higher market capitalization because it increases the prospect of underwriting secondary or debt offerings.

One significant patent holder told me that a  JP Morgan had pegged the potential damages award with a willfulness finding as high as $2 billion. Flame fanning of this nature merely preys on those already confused about patents and the patent system, and is a blow to PIPCO credibility and long-term acceptance and reliability.

While the damages award is the largest patent jury verdict so far in 2013, and ninth-largest of all U.S. jury awards according to data compiled by Bloomberg, it’s less than half the $432 million ParkerVision was seeking.

That the market saw this otherwise resounding and well-deserved win in court as a something  less than a significant success suggests a failure many to manage expectations.  It can only serve to undermine confidence in IP-centric stocks.

ParkerVision, founded in 1989 designs, develops, and markets proprietary radio frequency (RF) technologies and products for use in semiconductor circuits for wireless communication products in the United States.

The court ruled that Qualcomm infringed on four patents of ParkerVision’s related to radio-frequency receivers and the conversion of electromagnetic signals in wireless devices and improperly used them in Qualcomm’s semiconductor chips.

Back in February, after a positive Markman ruling against Qualcomm, ParkerVision’s stock price rose 73%, from $2.43 to $4.21. PRKR’s market cap was around $300 million for most of 2013 and was recently as high as about $700 million. IP investors will recall a spike in InterDigital’s (IDCC) shares after Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion, temporarily increasing its value by over $1 billion.

Both PRKR and QCOM (and IDCC) are in the IP CloseUp® 30.

Illustration source: parkervision.com


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