Tag Archives: Priceline.com

Inventor who said $17M is the real cost of obtaining his patent, wins $24.5M suit

How much does it cost to obtain and use a U.S. patent? The depends who you ask.

The price to obtain an invention right can range from $6,000 for a very basic one with few claims to $50,000 of more for a more complex application that requires significant back and forth with the Patent Office.

A successful inventor, Josh Malone, creator of Bunch O Balloons, says the true cost of obtaining his patent and using it to defend his invention has been $17 million, thus far, and it could easily grow to $50 million. (For Malone’s reasoning, go here.)

Bunch O Balloons, a consumer product that can fill 100 water balloons in 60 seconds, has had to defend itself against TeleBrands Corp, which has repeatedly infringed it with different businesses over a period of years.

Last week, Bunch of Balloons, originally a crowd-funded company, won a $24.5 million patent suit against TeleBrands Corp.  $4.75 million was added for attorney’s fees.

The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 9,242,749 and 9,315,282.


Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com, one of the most prolific US inventors, has called the U.S. Patent System dysfunctional and is in need of a major makeover. Not all patent holders would agree, but for many inventors, the cards are increasingly stacked against them. (Hear the audio file of Walker’s speech about the patent system at the 2018 IP Awareness Summit at Columbia University.)

At the heart of the problem is uncertainty about what can, in fact, be patented and licensed. Patents in new areas of invention or art can be overly ambitious. Some may be too broadly drawn and claim more than the invention covers in hopes of keeping others from doing something similar.

In an over-reaction to that possibility lawmakers and courts have made it difficult to rely on many patents, despite the extensive examination process they go through. As a result, many issued patents are, in effect, still applications.


There is little agreement on an acceptable level of uncertainty. If virtually any patent issued that is enforced can be routinely challenged, what is the point of issuing it in the first place?

Critics say that an inventor should not be able to claim what can amount to an entire industry, as opposed being granted a patent on a specific invention. The patent office often does not realize it may be granting rights too broadly.

Image source: wgno.com; ipwatchdog.com




IP Awareness Summit update: keynotes to include top-ten inventor, Jay Walker, USPTO Director Iancu and IBM’s Schecter

Priceline.com founder and one of the most prolific and successful U.S. inventors in history will join USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and IBM Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter as featured speakers at the IP Awareness Summit in NYC on November 29.

The Summit will is being held by the Center for IP Understanding, an independent non-profit, at Columbia University’s famed Pulitzer Hall in the School of Journalism in conjunction with Columbia Technology Ventures.

Mr. Walker, an owner of TEDMED, which bridges the gap between science and the public, has long held that despite increases in U.S. technology and innovation, the patent licensing system is broken.

“The fact is that without a functioning licensing system we really don’t have what need to compete,” Mr. Walker, a former member of the Forbes 400, has stated. “Licensing is the way that inventions get into the economy; it’s the way they get used and brought into the marketplace and creates jobs and helps our economy to be more competitive.”

Mr. Walker is number eight on the U.S. all-time U.S. inventor list with 950 issued utility patents. Thomas Edison had 1,084. At the current pace, Walker will surpass Edison sometime in 2023. Many of his patents cover gaming and risk calculation.

Iancu and Schecter, too

Joining Mr. Walker as an IPAS 2018 featured speaker is USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, who will present at 1:30 and is likely to touch upon U.S. and China IP issues. Another featured presenter is Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel of IBM, who will speak about the impact of a faster, more digitized world on IP and how it is seen.

Other speakers and panelists include a range of IP thought-leaders, owners, educators and organizations from the U.S., Europe and Asia, who will present and serve on panels. Luncheon breakout sessions will permit IP holders, creators and others to consider specific IP leadership challenges. Registration for IPAS 2018 is now open to the public but space is limited.

The IPAS 2018 theme – IP Literacy in a Digital World will be the basis for examining the impact of information and speed on how intellectual property is seen and often taken for granted, as well as ways to address the disconnect through education and the media.

To view the IPAS 2018 program and event website, visit www.ipawarenesssummit.com.

To register, go here.

The current list of IPAS 2018 participants and partners can be found on the home page. Persons who wish to apply for a discounted registration, contact explore@understandingip.org.

To learn more about the Center for IP Understanding, www.understandingip.org.

Image source: bloomberg.com; TEDMED

“Patent Licensing is Totally Broken,” Priceline Founder Tells Investors

Inventor and entrepreneur Jay Walker says new ideas are needed to make innovation less contentious.

He wants to make “no fault” patent licensing a reality.

Earlier this year Jay Walker merged remaining parts of Walker Digital, his invention company, into Patent Properties (OTC: PPRO). Patent Properties will continue to license his patents and soon introduce a potential game-changer, “a disruptive licensing solution for the mass market of patent owners and users.”

Walker sees huge untapped licensing potential in patents if the pricing is right. In the November IAM, out shortly, I look at Walker’s recent proposal to create a better environment for patent licensing in the U.S. Walker bloomberg Interviews with him on CNBC, Bloomberg and the PPRO home page (linked), and the video on his firm’s website, provide revealing glimpses at what he hopes to achieve, and how he plans to achieve it.

A Clearing House for Invention Rights

No doubt Patent Properties hopes to own a  piece of each “no-fault” transaction, similar to how Priceline profits from travelers demand of available airline seats and hotel rooms. He sees the company as  potential copyright clearing houses ASCAP or BMI, only in this case Patent Properties would be monitoring inventions, not songs.

“Of today’s 2.1 million active patents, 95 percent fail to be licensed or commercialized,” wrote Walker recently in a Forbes guest editorial. “These unlicensed patents include over 50,000 high-quality patented inventions developed by universities.  More than $5 trillion has been spent in the U.S. alone on research and development over the past 20 years, much of which went to create the very patents that remain unlicensed.”

Walker home pgWhile the much-licensed Walker Digital portfolio has generated since 2011 $65 million in revenues from licensing and litigating its patent portfolio as well as from patent sales, the immediate future for PPRO investors lies in the company’s 19 on-going litigation matters.

Walker, who  has never been accused of lacking vision or the energy and skills to convey a new idea, is a successful entrepreneur who founded Priceline.com (NASDAQ: PCLN), an early online auction business that was slow to start but now has a market value of $40 billion.  

“We must develop an affordable and voluntary alternative that facilitates licensing for the vast majority of patents at fair, market-based prices, benefitting both sides of the patent equation,” says Walker. “And it is safe to say that Congress is not the right place to go for this solution.”

A more liquid market for patent licensing would help patents to lubricate the innovation machinery rather than throw a monkey wrench in it, as they have been known to. However, it will be difficult to achieve broad buy-in Walker cnbcfrom companies who see little upside in taking a license before they have to, and inventors who may see “no-fault” as little more than a compulsory license. 

Availability Pricing Model

You have to admire Walker for moving the ball forward with an innovative, market-based solution, presumably not unlike Priceline’s availability demand pricing mode that makes it easier for more holders to profit from inventions and avoid running afoul of them.

Walker may be on to something. At the right price it becomes difficult (nay, imprudent) for businesses not to take a license.  Indeed, if anyone knows that establishing the right to practice a patent is not that different from bidding to buy an available airline seat, it is the Priceline founder.

Who knows? Market-based pricing — a reflection of how quickly and safely a business needs to get from here to there — may turn out to be among the more viable measures of what a business should pay and an inventor receive for the right to practice a patent.


Image sources: Bloomberg, CNBC, Patent Properties



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