Tag Archives: Tessera
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InterDigital leads PIPX public IP stock index to a 44.9% gain for 2016

The PIPX public IP licensing company stock index soared to a 44.9% increase in 2016, led by an impressive 86.3% move for InterDigital.

With a market capital in excess of $3 billion, InterDigtal (IDCC) led the value weighted PIPX with another stellar performance.  Poor performers for the year included Neonode (-27.3%, NEON), ParkerVision (-20.0%, PRKR) and VirnetX (-14.4%, VHC), who made less of a dent in overall PIPX performance because of their lack of market value. The S&P 500 stock index for the year was up 9.5%, a significant portion in the 4Q following November’s presidential election.

“For Q4 the PIPX index was up 11.2% after a remarkable 20.4% in Q3,” noted Dr. Kevin Klein, Vice President and GM of Products and Licensing at VORAGO Technologies, who compiled the IP stock performance data for IP CloseUp. “Pendrell underwent a reverse 1:10 split during Q4, as have several other of the smaller companies in the index, another example of the their shrinking share price and market capitalization.”

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The imminent departure of President Obama, an advocate of weaker patents, and the election of Donald Trump, a strong supporter of proprietary content and brand, also may have had something to do with strong 4Q performance for the PIPX.

Despite the over all gains for year and quarter, Marathon (MARA) and ParkerVision were down 38.8% and 56.3% respectively in the 4Q, and were up 7.5% and down 20.0% for the year. Litigation developments were likely influences.

For both the year and 4Q, performance for InterDigital Tessera (TSRA) and Acacia (ACTG) accounted for all the PIPX gain and offset some of the losses from the smaller component companies.

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“InterDigital, Tessera, and Rambus (RMBS) continue to drive the recent growth in the index and make up an ever-increasing share of the index,” stated Dr. Klein. “These three companies accounted for 37% of the total value of the index at the inception in 2011, today they make up over 80% of the total value of the index. InterDigital alone now accounts for over 40%, up from 15% at inception.”

Change in value of PIPX component companies 2011-2016

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Five Years of Data

After more than five full years of tracking, the PIPX seems to be suggesting that a handful of strong IP licensing companies are getting stronger and the weaker (smaller) ones are becoming more volatile.

For the full 2016 and 4Q PIPX report, go here.

 Image source: PIPX IP Stock Index

 

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Public patent licensing company index declined 24.4% in 2015

While the S&P 500 stock market index was up 6.5% for the 4Q 2015, the PIPX (public IP licensing company index) was down 11%. 

2015 results were worse with the PIPX down 24.4% vs. the S&P 500, which declined 0.7%. The poor performance is attributed to the weakening of patents and patent values, and the increase in uncertainty, as a result of the American Invents Act (AIA) and several major court cases, including Alice v. CLS Bank.

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Marathon (MARA) and Acacia (ACTG) performed particularly poorly in 2015, down 81% and 74.7% respectively. Rambus (RMBS) was the only gainer in the group, up 4.5% for the year.

For the fourth quarter, ParkerVision (PRKR) and Unwired Planet (UPIP), up 21.1% and 17.8%, both outperformed the solid S&P 500 results of 6.5%.

The PIPX is a capitalization-weighted, price-return measure of the change in value of this segment of publicly traded companies. The performance of more highly valued companies, such as InterDigital (IDCC), Universal Display (OLED), has a more significant impact on the overall index.

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Many of those who follow public IP licensing companies (PIPCOs) do so in conjunction with the IP CloseUp 30®, a real-time index of individual company performance in this sector, which also provides up-to-the minute news updates.

The PIPX index, created by Dr. Kevin Klein, former Director of IP Licensing at Freescale Semiconductor, is designed to provide a measure of the market value, and hence a reading of the relative health of the publicly traded intellectual property licensing sector. The index consists of 13 companies with a primary focus of licensing and enforcement of patent intellectual property.

In addition to a focus on intellectual property, the companies must be publicly traded and have a market capitalization greater than $100M. Since being added to the index the market caps of many of the companies have shrunk below $100M. The index was initiated with a value of 100 on July 1, 2011.

For the full PIPX Intellectual Property Sector Index Q4 2015 update, go here.

Image source: PIPX Index

3Q 2015 Fig 2 (labeled)

PIPEX patent company index falls 15.4% for 3Q, double the S&P 500

The PIPEX intellectual property sector stock index fell more than twice as much as the S&P 500 as the effects of the Alice and IPRs, in combination with a correcting stock market, came into play. 

Rambus, while loosing 18.6% in the quarter, still has gained 6.4% Year-to-Date, largely as a result of excellent 1Q and 2Q performance. Tessera and InterDigital stock which performed well in 4Q 2014, has less steep YTD declines (see YTD graph below).

The PIPEX index was down 15.4% vs. the S&P 500 which was lost 6.9%, its biggest quarterly drop since 2011. Unwired Planet was up 17.7 % for the quarter and Acacia 3.5%. For the previous 12 months, Surprisingly, InterDigital and Tessera were the leaders for 12 months, up 27.1% and 21.9% respectively because of a strong 2014 4Q.

3Q 2015 Fig 2 (labeled)

The PIPEX, provided exclusively to IP CloseUp by Dr. Kevin Klein, VP of Licensing for Freescale Semiconductor, is a “capitalization‐weighted price‐return measure of the change in value of this segment
of publicly traded companies.” The Index is designed to provide a measure of the market value and health of the intellectual property licensing business as a whole, while making it easier to identify individual performance. The stock performance of larger companies have a much more significant impact on the Index than those of the less highly valued. (See Fig. 4 weighting graph.)

The thirteen companies in the index are all publicly traded and at one time had a market capitalization of $100M or higher. Private companies such as Intellectual Ventures, Conversant and IPNav are not included, nor are struggling micro-caps like Inventergy.  Fortress, which provides loans to patent holders and is part of a large financial organization, also is excluded.

Year-to-Date

Parkervision and Marathon shares are down the most YTD, 79.1% and 78% respectively. Marathon announced a merger with Uniloc on August 14, which current shareholders may see as a mixed blessing. Eight of the thirteen companies that make up the index saw 12 month declines >40%; four did YTD, indicating a possibly improving trend for shares of some companies.

3Q 2015 YTD (labeled)

Conclusion

It is difficult to say if PIPCOs have hit bottom yet and are ready to rise. Certainly, as they adapt to changes in patent law, recent court decisions and the PTAB, those with larger, well-vetted portfolios, cash and patience are in the best position to prosper. For better or worse IPRs and the PTAB are a fact of patent licensing life which these businesses must learn to contend.

For the full PIPEX 3Q 2015 report go here.

3Q 2015 Fig 4 (labeled)

Image source: The PIPEX Intellectual Property Sector Index 

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PIPX patent licensing company index beat the S&P 500 in the 2Q

The PIPX Index of 14 of the larger publicly held patent licensing companies rose by 2.1% for the second quarter 2015, beating the S&P 500 Index.

Similar to some other indexes, the PIPX is heavily weighted by the market value of those companies included, and was able to out-performed the S&P 500 Index, which was down .2% based on the leaders. The biggest movers for the 2Q were RPX, up 17.4% and Rambus up 15.2%.

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Over the past four quarters or 12 months, Tessera is the biggest winner, up an impressive 72%. InterDigital was ahead 19%, while the 12 other companies in the PIPX were all either flat or down for the period, confirming the recent pressure on PIPCOs. The S&P 500 Index managed to move up 5.2%.

2Q 2015 Fig 3-page-001

Equity investors seem to be telling patent licensing companies that they prefer company size, portfolio breadth and patent quality. Investors also appear to be gravitating to licensing businesses with more predictable cash flows, no easy feat after Alice and inter partes reviews.

For the full PIPX report, including performance dating back to July 1, 2011, just after the Nortel sale to Rockstar, go here.

Image source: Freescale Semiconductor, Dr. Kevin Klein

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Leading IP stocks for 1Q include VRNG, RMBS, TSRA, VHC & RPXC

Despite a soft first quarter 2015 for the 13 IP licensing company stocks that comprise the PIPX IP Stock Index, versus the S&P 500, individual winners and losers that bucked the trend.

Vringo (VRNG), down 80.9% over the past 12 months, was up 18.2% in the quarter one, the most in the group. Also advancing were Rambus (RMBS) was up 13.4%, Tessera (TSRA) 12.6%, Virnetx (VHC)10.9% and RPX (RPXC) 4.4%.

Unwired Planet (UPIP), Acacia (ACTG) and Marathon (MARA) were down, 43.0%, 36.8% and 31.0% respectively for the quarter. For MARA it came after a stellar 2014 where it gained some 170%, so some profit-taking is not unexpected. InterDigital (IDC) also cooled off after a torrid 4Q 2014.

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PIPX under-performance relative to the S&P 500 was more muted in the first quarter. This appeared to be less a result of improving performance among PIPX sector companies as a group, than improved performance among a handful of larger Index leaders (Tessera and InderDigital), whose weighting impacted overall results (see final graph).  

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Vringo’s stock was beaten down significantly in the 2014 as the result of adverse decisions in court, so its gain is less impressive in relative terms. Its improved stock performance is either being considered by some investors as a positive harbinger, or the shares are enjoying a favorable bounce due more to traders than long-term investors.

The role of depressed patent values as a result of the American Invents Act, IPRs and proposed proposed additional anti-patent litigation legislation in poor PIPCO performance is difficult to determine. The likelihood is that investors are beginning to regard some companies as better capitalized and and more sufficiently equipped for the long hall, whatever the scenario.

Those larger players that appear to be in possession of sufficient numbers of good patents and licensing opportunities, appear to be the best position to perform over time.

*****

Fig3The PIPX Index, compiled exclusively for IP CloseUp by Dr. Kevin Klein, Director of IP Licensing at Freescale Semiconductor, is designed to provide a measure of the market value and health of the intellectual property licensing business. The index consists of 13 public companies all whose market capitalization exceeds $100M, whose primary focus of licensing and enforcement of patent intellectual property. The companies included in the index are listed in Table 1. Several of the companies’ market capitalization has fallen below $100M since being added to the index.

“The PIPX index starting from July 2011 through March 31, 2015,” says Dr. Klein. “Somewhat surprisingly, given the amount of interest and attention provided to IP licensing in recent years, the index trends down from July 2011 to about the middle of 2012 and from there has been relatively flat. This performance stands in contrast to that of the broader economy and of publicly traded companies in general.”

The 2015 1Q PIPX update can be found here.

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Image source: PIPX IP Sector Index, Q1 2015 Update

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Nine Companies in IP CloseUp 30 Index Fall Below $1/share

More than one-third of the IP CloseUp® 30 public patent licensing companies (or PIPCOs) are currently selling for less than or about $1 per share — Opportunity of red flag?

With the S&P 500 and other major market indices up slightly for the year, about as expected, PIPCOs continue to defy expectations both on the down and the up side.

As of mid-day December 17, nine IP CloseUp 30 companies are trading below $1 per share and two others are just barely above gold-bear-market-cnbcit. The laggards include Copytele, DSS, Hipcricket, Inventergy, MGT Capital, Opti, Inc., Paid, Inc., Single Touch, Unwired Planet and Vringo. Pendrell is at $1.27 and Spherix at 1.13, 2014 lows. VirnetX is down 75% for the year and Finjan 64%.

It remains to be seen whether 2015 investors will regard these stocks, beaten down by new patent laws and lackluster performance, as buy or sell opportunities.

Patent licensing stocks continuing to outperform the market by a wide margin are Tessera, Rambus, InterDigital, Marathon Patent Group and Acacia Technologies. Collectively these stocks are up well over 50% in 2014. Marathon is up 188%.

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ipcu30-blurb2-21Year end stock selling can be fueled by many things, including mutual funds that announce their mandatory distributions, typically in mid December. This year fund distributions have been particularly high because many have taken gains from previous years, including a huge 2013. Some investors sell to avoid the taxes passed on by funds. The plunge in oil prices is adding volatility as is the Fed’s suggested easing of economic support.

PIPCOs that have transcended the general public NPE stock trend appear to be well-positioned for 2015 and may benefit from proposed new patent legislation should it pass.

Image sources: ipcloseup.com; promotaka.com

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InterDigital and Tessera Soar in (for now) a Strong 4Q for Stocks

The stock market continues to defy expectations. Even more surprising, a few PIPCOs have dramatically outperformed it. Smaller cap patent stocks have not fared so well.  

A handful of patent licensing companies are poised to end 2014 on a resoundingly high note. Early indications are that InterDigital and Tessera Technologies are among those that have likely benefited from the positive momentum generated in the fourth quarter, fueled by a 67-month bull run.

With the S&P 500 up 11.44% at the close of trading on December 9, Tessera (NASDAQ: TSRA) is up 82.39% YTD, and most of that in the fourth quarter. It was up “only” 34.9% through the third quarter. (See TSRA’s performance through the third quarter in the Freescale chart below.)

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Unwired Planet (NASDAQ: UPIP) on the other hand is up 8% YTD after having been up 35.5% at the end of the third quarter, dropped dramatically in the fourth quarter. InterDigital (NASDAQ: IDCC),  up a respectable 35% at the end of the third quarter, is currently at 81% YTD. Another beneficiary of good tidings and market momentum. IDCC, TSRA and, to a lesser extent, Rambus (NASDAQ: RMBS), have been quietly generating credibility for patent licensing stocks. (In a future IP CloseUp we will be analyzing their largest investors.)

Many Nanocaps Suffer

Many of the nanocaps, PIPCOs whose market capitalization does not exceed 100M, continue to be down for the year and quarter. Some like ParkerVision, Vringo and VirnteX have been dragged down by adverse decisions in court. Others, like DSS and Inventergy have had difficulty showing they can turn patent licensing into a sustainable public business. Notably, IDCC, which ballooned to $75.72 on August 7, 2011, a five-year high, has steadily climbed back up to $53.39 after sinking as low as 25 on July 22, 2012. Some patent licensing stocks appear to be more resilient than others. Often that grit is based on (1) cash flow and (2) cash on the balance sheet. (Cash was king long before Lebron.) Stay tuned to see how the year will end for PIPCOs and which companies have been able to take advantage of the still running bull. Tessera

Image source: Freescale Semiconductor; Yahoo! Finance 

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Some Licensing Companies will Likely Benefit from Higher Patent Hurdles

As businesses adjust to new judicial and legislative requirements public patent licensing companies will have to work harder and think smarter to compete against the stock market and each other.

Some are better-positioned to succeed than other.

Investors will soon learn which patent licensing companies are best-prepared to respond to the new patent quality and anti-monetization requirements handed down by the lawmakers and the courts.

Public IP companies (PIPCOs) not only need to surmount new legal obstacles to monetize their assets, but at some point in the near future will no longer have the benefit of a bull market to buoy their shares. Such obstacles will actually suit some companies as they rise to the new challenges, and competition increase. It’s hard to keep a good patent down, especially a heavily infringed one; nor is it easy to deter a determined patent holder.

PIPCOs have benefited from the momentum of a 65-month bull market, by most accounts, now in its final stages. Balance sheet basics like cash flow, market value and the ability to grow in adverse market conditions will be increasingly important as investors seek shelter. This provides opportunities for companies like Tessera, InterDigital and Rambus, all market valued at $1B or more. This will put pressure on thinly traded nano-caps, whose low value will present challenges in weak market for speculative stocks. Exceptions will be those tiny companies whose stock price outpaces their revenue stream.  

Market Cap

In “Higher patent quality hurdles may help some Licensing companies to prevail” in the January IAM Magazine I look at the PIPCOs that have out-performed the S&P 500, thus far, and those positioned to continue to. I also consider  RPX’s (NASDAQ: RPXCIP business model which has suffered, possibly from a perceived lack of need for defensive aggregation under new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews.

“A kind of normalisation appears to be taking place in the NPE space,” the Intangible Investor piece states. “While IP rights and Alice have made it more difficult for most companies (and law firms) to collect big damages awards, they have not affected all PIPCOs the same way. Those with quality and capital, and room to grow are in a good position to prevail. Stock prices are depressed as over-reacting investors adjust to lower patent values, but some smart investors will see this as a buying opportunity.”  

Stock Performance

The businesses in the IP CloseUp® 30 that exceed $1 billion in market cap all did well through the first three quarters, some even outperforming the S&P 500, which was up 5% at that point. Most of the rest performed poorly, with the notable exception of Marathon Patent Group (NASDAQ: MARA), whose share price was up 120% at the end of the 3Q. (It’s up 147.7%% over the past year as I write this.)  Of the seven most highly valued IP licensing plays RPX performed the worst. (See current 12-month performance comparison below.)

S&P Comparison

“IP licensing companies are a very small part of a larger public equities market,” says Mark Argento, senior equity capital markets at Lake Street Capital, who has been following PIPCOs for almost a decade. “Only a half, or so, are institutional grade stocks because of their size and volume. Investor sentiment is improving. We need to remember there is a difference between long-term investors and short-term traders.” (See 3Q market cap and 12-month return charts on this page.)

The January IAM will be published in late November.

Image source: Lake Street Capital Partners; Freescale Semiconductor; tnoonz.com; yahoofinance.com.

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New Patent Sector Index: PIPCOs Trail the S&P 500 over 3-Yr Period

Despite their increased size and capital most small public companies that rely significantly on patent licensing have yet to prove they can compete with other equity investments.

A recent report by, “PIPX Intellectual Property Sector Index,” from Dr. Kevin Klein of Freescale Semiconductors, a provider of embedded procession solutions, shows that the stock of most PIPCOs have under-performed the benchmark S&P 50 equity index over the past 11 quarters.

(For a more in-depth analysis see “Let the Shake-Out Begin” in the July IAM magazine, out this month. My piece can be found under The Intangible Investor (for subscribers), here. For a comparative listing of public IP companies, including news and performance data, visit the IP CloseUp 30, here.)

The PIPX IP Sector Index is designed to provide a measure of the general health of the PIPCO sector by comparing the relative value of key companies over time.  

PIPX IP Sector Companies   Market Cap
(5/1/14)
Acacia Research (ACTG) 775M
InterDigital (IDCC) 1.40B
Neonode (NEON) 203M
Parkervision (PRKR) 439M
Pendrell (PCO) 429M
Rambus (RMBS) 1.37B
RPX (RPXC) 866M
Tessera (TSRA) 1.16B
Unwired Planet (UPIP) 250M
Vringo (VRNG) 351M
VirnetX (VHC) 807M
Wi‐LAN (WILN) 371M

Bigger Question 

The bigger question is how many IP monetization models do we need, and which ones are best adapted for long-term success?

As much as half of the 30 or so public IP licensing companies are likely to merge, be taken private or otherwise disappear over the next few years. That’s bad news for some investors, good for others.

Says Dr. Klein: “The lower returns and higher volatility of the PIPX as compared to the broad market imply that there are challenges facing investment in intellectual property licensing as the business evolves and matures.

“This of course could be due to short-term factors over the 33 months the PIPX Index is tracked, such as a deflating patent bubble. However, it may also be a sign that there are some underlying characteristics of this business that may need to be addressed or better understood to help make intellectual property licensing a more comfortable investment for the broader market.”

The value of companies in the IP space like Tessera and Rambus increased, while Acacia and RPX declined (see below).

The entire PIPX IP Sector Index can be viewed here.

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Illustration sources: The PIPX IP Sector Index; Seeking Alpha.

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The Great Patent Debate Will Kick-Off Day Two of World IP Business Congress in San Francisco

Do Patents Help or Hurt Innovation?

Skepticism about the patent system is growing even as more businesses and people benefit from IP rights.

Recent passage of the biggest overall of U.S. patents since the 1950s does not seem to have meant much, and cries of “too much” patenting are still being heard. A recent story in  The Economist (“The spluttering invention machine”) underscores the issue.

 Are patents net positive for innovation and commerce, or are they merely a drain on them that fills the pockets of special interests? Why do many IP-rich companies want to see weaker not stronger patents?

Is the playing field for patents leveler today or does it still favor some holders over others?

“The Great Patent Debate” taking place at the Intellectual Property Business Congress at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel on June 21 will attempt to find out.

Participating in what is expected to be a heated discussion:  Michael Meurer, author of Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk, a controversial book which details a complex system run wild; Peter Menell, co-founder and director of The Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, and a leading authority on patent law and practice who opposes the Property Rights Movement; and Mark Blaxill and Ralph Eckardt, authors of The Invisible Edge, proponents of patent strategy for businesses and investors.

Blaxill and Eckardt are Managing Partners of 3LP Advisors, which advises Tessera (NASDAQ: TRSA), among the growing number of patent holders who actively monetize their R&D through patent licensing and litigation.

Moderating the debate will be your humble IP Insider, Bruce Berman.

States the IPBC program: “Some see [the patent system] as a crucial facilitator of innovation that underpins business success. Others are not so sure and regard it as an expensive hindrance to innovative companies.”

• Head-to-head debate

• Key assets or an expensive waste of time?

• Encouraging innovation or a brake on it taking place?

• Tweaking the system or fundamental reform

I hope some of you can make the IPBC in SF.  Held previously in Munich, Chicago and Amsterdam, and hosted by UK-based IAM, the IP Business Congress is the most auspicious gathering for patent strategy and monetitzation.

This year’s Bay-area inspired presentations, discussions and networking are sure to entertain as well as enlighten.


Illustration source: IPBC


Letter to The Intangible Investor

CEO Addresses Patent Tax Credit

 

The following letter by Tessera CEO Henry Nothhaft (NASDAQ: TSRA) is in response to “Patentomics,” a column written for The Intangible Investor. The column runs in the current IAM magazine. See “The Devil is in the Details,” below.

*     *     *

Dear Mr. Berman:

Thanks for your recent IAM piece about our New York Times op-ed on patents and job creation. I thought it was a very fair assessment of the plan.

But I’d like to address your concern that a tax credit for issued patents might encourage a flood of trivial or poor quality patents, which the op-ed format did not allow us the space to address. Judge Paul Michel and I believe that restricting this “innovation tax credit” only to patents issued to small entities would greatly reduce the danger of that happening.

Studies (and observable reality) demonstrate that small entities typically only incur the time and great expense of filing for patents when they feel these are vital to their business. In contrast, it is generally large corporations who behave like “patent factories” and flood the office with trivial or me-too patents to be used as industry bargaining chips. Those firms would not be entitled to the tax credit.

Our article was meant only to be a starting point for showing how relieving the patent office backlog could be a powerful tool for kick-starting job creation. By helping the sole source of net job creation in the U.S. — new startup businesses — get their patents when they need them rather than having to wait many years, they’ll be better able to obtain the VC funding they need to scale up their R&D and hiring.

I’m sure that economic policy and tax experts could take our basic idea and improve it considerably. Our job was simply to point to the opportunity.

Not to mention the fact that by linking patents to job creation, we finally got the mainstream media to start paying attention to the critical need for patent office reform — a good thing in and of itself.

Sincerely,

Henry R. Nothhaft
CEO
Tessera, Inc.


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