Tag Archives: Transactions

Bank of America is granted (another) blockchain-type patent

Bank of America was granted last week a patent on a “cryptocurrency transformation system” that comprises a platform to manage exchange rates between various currencies, transfer requests, and customer accounts.

The timing could not be better. The price of a bitcoin as of December 12 is $17,756.96, up from $1,000 on January, and the premium on cryptocurrency and blockchain patents is sure to rise, too.

“Enterprises may handle a large number of financial transactions on a daily basis,” reported ETHnews, citing the bank’s patent. “As technology advances, financial transactions involving cryptocurrency have become more common. For some enterprises, it may be desirable to exchange currencies and cryptocurrencies.”

Blockchain-type Patents 

It is interesting to note that inventors from four different states are shown on the patent –  Georgia, Colorado, Florida and North Carolina, BofA’s home state. This may give some indication of the seriousness which it is taking the patent.

Top Assignees

According to an article in IP Watchdog, the four top assignees in the blockchain/cryptocurrency area are Bank of America, Mastercard, Paypal and CapitalOne, all financial entities. They followed by technology-based businesses IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple.

Both groups appear to be pursuing leverage.

It is estimated that the Bank of America has filed more than 20 blockchain patents over the past four or five years. Its interest is unclear, but it may well simply want to prevent patent disputes by holding key patents.

For a copy of the new patent, issued on December 5, go here.

 

Image source: uponarriving.com; ipwatchdog.com

Update: 62 weird but strangely useful facts about bitcoin

$100 invested in bitcoin in July 2010 is worth about $6M today. For many, it is still unclear if blockchain is a viable alternative currency, an investment or a scheme that has made some people rich.

One Bitcoin today currently equals $7,416.88, up from under $500 over a year ago.

With those multiples you can see why patent and other IP holders are highly interested in the future not only of bitcoin, but other blockchain based crypto-currencies and transaction platforms. If bitcoin, which started it all, is far from perfect, blockchain, the technology that provides its basic infrastructure, can be seen as bitcoin 2.0.

The number of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related patent applications being submitted and published in the US has nearly doubled in 2017, reports Coin Desk.

Data from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database indicates that there were 390 patent applications related broadly to blockchain technology published between January and July of this year.

“Overall, this represents a 90% increase compared to the same period in 2016, when 204 applications were sent to the USPTO,” said the publication.

The dataset includes combined keyword search results using terms such as “bitcoin,” “ethereum,” “blockchain” and “distributed ledger,” among others.

Bank of America has been among the most active filers. Three new submissions, initially filed with the USPTO early last year, add to a total of 20 blockchain and cryptocurre

ncy-related patent applications filed by the bank since 2014.

Diversity of Perspective

Not everyone agrees that bitcoin should be greeted with unbridled enthusiasm.

“Right now these crypto things are kind of a novelty,” JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon told a CNBC-TVreporter in New Delhi. “People think they’re kind of neat. But the bigger they get, the more governments are going to close them down…”

“It’s creating something out of nothing that to me is worth nothing,” he said. “It will end badly.”

Dimon was concerned that with bitcoin, ethereum and various initial coin offerings (ICOs), there are now cryptocurrencies everywhere. Several nations have even banned bitcoin.

Early Adopters

Despite Dimon’s comments, 69% of banks that participated in an Infosys survey reported that they were experimenting with permissioned or private blockchains, and some governments and an increasing number of companies, including Dell, Microsoft and Expedia accept bitcoin as payment.  The FBI, states the image below developed by a gambling site bitcoinplay.net the developed the image, owns 1.5% of all bitcoins.

Below is an infographic that updates an earlier IPCU post. It’s called “62 Insane Facts About Bitcoin.”

 

Image source: bitcoinplay.net; bitcoin.com

Global focus+ at IP Dealmakers Forum; IPCU reader’s save $200

Attendees to this year’s IP Dealmakers Forum can expect an expanded international perspective to the timely content and networking. This year’s keynote is Dr Lulin Gao, Founding Commissioner of the Chinese State IP Office. 

IPDF, now in its fourth year, emphasizes quality of content and attendees. Last year IPDF hosted more than 200 one-on-one private meetings.

“We are honored to have Dr. Gao as our keynote speaker this year,” noted Wendy Chou, Co-Founder of IP Dealmakers Forum.”He provides a timely and rare opportunity to gain insight into how China’s IP system really operates — straight from the source.“

Dr. Gao will present current data from the courts, providing attendees with valuable access to information that is not readily available.

Often referred to as the founding father of the modern Chinese IP system, Dr. Gao was the first Commissioner of China’s State IP Office, the longest standing Commissioner of the Chinese Patent Office, and a senior advisor to the WIPO. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for his contributions in IP.

Last year, almost two-thirds of IP Dealmakers Forum attendees were investors and significant IP owners. I attend IPDF regularly. The Apella event space at the Alexandria Center, over the East River in NY, just south of United Nations headquarters, is a unique and conducive environment for an IP transaction summit of this nature.

Program & Discount

For the IP Dealmakers Forum 2017 program and panelists, go here.

IP CloseUp readers to here to receive a $200 discount off the registration fee.

 

Image source: 

London IP Summit will feature transaction leaders; Washington patent policy event, a US Senator

Two timely IP conferences, one in London focusing on patent deals, and the other in Washington, looking at patent policy issues, will take place in this fall. 

This year’s London IP Summit will be held at the London Stock Exchange on October 16,and feature several of the leading figures in patent licensing and transactions.

So far, they include Stephen Pattison, ARM; Kasim Alfalahi, Avanci; Gustav Brismark, Ericsson; Roberto Dini, Sisvel; Tim Frain, Nokia; and Manny Schecter, IBM.

“The London IP Summit is an industry leading event dedicated to bringing together IP owners, experts and investors to address key challenges and operational issues faced by companies and IP professionals today,” reports LIPS.

“Due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed, LPS-London IP Summit is the only IP event organised under the Chatham House Rule*, offering safe and secure environment to speakers and to attendees in order to encourage openness and sharing of information. Participation at the event is by invitation only

 * When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

For the full program or to register go here.

*****

In Washington, DC on November 14, IAM is presenting the 3rd annual Patent Law and Policy conference, “Courts, Congress and the Monetization Landscape,” at the Reagan International Trade Center, across the street from the White House. The event will provide the political background needed to put IP into better context amidst changes.


Coverage includes the latest Supreme Court decisions and the machinations in Congress, to the policies of the Trump administration, the event provides delegates with timely and relevant insights from panelists representing a broad cross-section of the patent community.

Senator Chis Coons (D-Delaware) will be a speaker, as will interim USPTO Director Joseph Matal.  Laurie Self of Qualcomm, a passionate defender of the right to license patents, also will present.

For the Patent Law and Policy program or to register, go here.

Register by October 6 using code ONLINEEB to receive $100 off the standard rate. (CLE credit is available.)

 

Image source: 10times.com; qualitytalks.com

Blockchain patent publications picked up speed in August

An uptick in recent blockchain patent publications may be an indication that the technology is quietly picking up steam, with competing big banks and tech businesses vying for leadership.

“The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published in late August 2017 nine additional patent applications related to blockchain technology that was filed by Bank of America,” reports The Coin Telegraph, an industry publication.

The patents, which relate to the carrying out and settling transactions within a payment network, were all filed on Feb. 22, 2017, so the process took only seven months. So far, BofA has filed over 30 blockchain technology-related patent applications, including some 18 in 2016.

“The various patents already filed by the bank mainly focused on the whole cryptocurrency exchange and payment process. Among them were the areas of real-time conversion, transaction validation, risk detection, and online and offline storage.

“The other patents involved the use of distributed ledgers to validate the factualness of information and those who handle it, as well as a peer-to-peer payment system that operates on the blockchain.”

In September 2016, the bank partnered with Microsoft for a joint project aimed at developing and testing blockchain applications for trade finance.

“Under the deal,” reports The Coin Telegraph, “the bank will collaborate directly with Microsoft Treasury for the creation of a Blockchain system that can speed up transactions between the partners.The partners have already hinted that they are already testing how the system can facilitate the letter of credit process.”

***** 

Leading cryptocurrency startup Coinbase received in mid-August a patent related to a security system for storing and distributing private keys.

The USPTO approved and published the patent on August 15, reports Econotimes.com. Entitled “Key ceremony of a security system forming part of a host computer for cryptographic transactions’, the patent lists former Coinbase engineers James Hudson and Andrew Alness as inventors, CoinDesk reported. The patent application for “key ceremony” was submitted in 2015. The startup has filed a number of patents related to security of private keys in the past.

*****

Also last week, the USPTO published the details of Visa’s new patent application. The biggest credit card company’s plans for the digital asset network are quite broad, reports Bitcoin Magazine. However, it might be possible that the company is planning to file a patent for the Visa B2B Connect.

The blockchain enterprise company Chain and Visa announced their new partnership in October 2016, in which the two firms decided to develop “a simple, fast and secure way to process B2B payments globally.” The Visa B2B Connect platform’s pilot is expected to launch in 2017, indicating a connection between the USPTO digital asset network patent and the new B2B solution.

*****

Coincidence? Maybe. Publication dates cannot be controlled, but they can be managed. A spate of controversial financial transaction patents publishing in mid-August should draw more attention than they would otherwise deserve.

 

Image source: datafloq.com; cointelegraph.com

An AT&T-Time Warner deal may affect the value of more than premium content & copyrights

The $85.4 billion buyout of Time Warner Corporation (TWC) by AT&T, if it goes through, is a good omen for the value of content providers, like HBO and CNN.

It is unclear, however, how the ambitious acquisition will affect less well-branded copyright holders like independent film productions, TV studios and recording artists dependent on digital distribution.

If content is now truly king, the tide may rise broadly, and rather rapidly.

If nothing else, the proposed acquisition conveys a heightened respect for content – and willingness to pay premium for it – that Google, its YouTube subsidiary and others have heretofore been reluctant to acknowledge.

“The deal is probably neutral for copyrights, but it has the potential to be positive,” one purveyor of music and the content told me from Los Angeles. “The combined entities will still be about half the size of Google, and will be saddled with $120 billion in debt. With those numbers, AT&T’s 5.1% dividend may longer be a given.”

Time Warner is the world’s largest diversified media company.

AT&T’s $107.50 per share offer is 35% premium over its market value. You have to wonder what the transaction might do to secondary content brands like indie labels and movie producers. It’s not just about having a great lineup, but about the particular content that Internet provides believe audiences will crave, which is currently in flux.

AT&T is betting that premium content will matter deeply. Other streaming services are not so certain.

The Future of TV & Broadband

If all of this sounds a bit speculative,” reported The New York Times, “that’s because it is. What this deal actually symbolizes is that the future of television is increasingly going to be built on lots of bold, possibly speculative, experiments.”

Recent acquisitions by Verizon included AOL and Yahoo, which some view as content. I tend to believe that content protected under copyright, and premium content (HBO, CNN) will certainly benefit.

time-warner-1-1024x390

This chart represents TWC prior to the sale of  AOL to Verizon.

 

Bad Business or Goog Timing?

Is the AT&T-TWC deal inherently anti-competitive or merely timely recognition of undervalued assets? After the deal will all content delivery continue to be treated fairly on the AT&T network so far as delivery speeds are concerned?

Will Disney, Comcast – which had acquired NBC-Universal – and Fox move swiftly to shore up their own content?  It’s too soon to tell, but there may be more pressure on Google to become more proprietary with regard to content (and maybe patents) than it has in the past.

It also will be interesting to see if there is a ripple effect on streaming content like music with services like iTunes, Pandora and Spotify.

A list of assets owned by TWC can be found here.

Image source: cnn.com; valuewalk.com

Accenture upsets blockchain believers with patent filing

Consulting giant Accenture has rattled the cage of the fintech community by filing a patent for an “editable” blockchain that would allow a central administrator to edit or delete information stored in a permissioned blockchain system.

Business Insider cites a Financial Times report that states a permissioned system is governed by a central administrator using agreed upon rules. This differs from permissionless systems, like those used by blockchain pioneers such as Bitcoin, which have no central authority. A key feature of permissionless systems is that the records they contain cannot be changed.

Accenture unveiled a prototype of the blockchain on Tuesday developed jointly by Accenture and Giuseppe Anteniese, a Stevens Institute of Technology professor.

accenture-quarterly-revenue-rises-97-percent-2014-9

Undermining Immutability?

“An editable system goes against one of blockchain technology’s key principals — immutability” reports Business Insider. The move is controversial to many because blockchain was conceived as an immutable, tamper-proof ledger, which eliminated the need for a centralized authority.

Accenture insists that immutability is not necessary in permissioned systems because everything is overseen by a single governing authority, and argues that the need for it in a permissionless system is part of the reason banks have been slow to create viable use cases with blockchain technology.

Business Insider thinks the success of Accenture’s system will depend on “whether or not financial services firms intend to use blockchain for use cases that require flexibility. Should they decide to implement the technology in more straightforward capacities, like managing their customers’ personal details, Accenture’s functionality would not likely be especially useful.”

Patent Application

There is no indication why a mere patent application — not a publication, notice of allowance, grant or successfully adjudicated right —  has reached this level of media coverage. Of late, blockchain-related patent filings, as well as issuances, have received significant coverage, prompting some to question where blockchain is headed.

Image source: businessinsider.com; bitcoinmagazine.com

Will blockchain technology fuel a new patent war or prevent one?

The race is on to gain control of a new technology that has the power to reinvent banking and make transactions and other agreements between parties cheaper, safer and easier to complete.

Like disruptive inventions that preceded it, blockchain has businesses, large and small, jockeying for leadership. This means that patents are likely to play a significant role.

Blockchain is a shared database of transactions and other information, which is open to all and controlled by no one. It also can function as an autonomous semi-private network.

Blockchain began life as the trading infrastructure that permits secure recording of payments for bitcoin, the fledgling crypto-currency. But in the right hands the technology is capable of much more. A blockchain can handle complex transactions, even entire contracts.

IP Windfall?

It is no surprise that competition is building for patents that go beyond bitcoin and cover inventions that support a distributed public ledger. Call it blockchain 2.0. The race among a variety of disparate players is not likely to be a repeat of the smartphone wars, but it does have the potential to create an IP licensing windfall for early movers, leaving some volume users to pay unanticipated royalties.

The shared nature of blockchain (see diagrams below) makes it unlikely that any one or two players will explicitly control the technology. However, that will not prevent some patent holders from trying to profit.

The blockchain is a public database that by-passes money-based payments by recording all transactions screen-shot-2016-03-04-at-42158-pmdigitally. It forms the core of bitcoin and other crypto-currencies by maintaining a decentralized record of all transactions. Proponents say it has the potential to disrupt financial services by making payments and the settling of securities transactions, in particular, far cheaper. Reuters reports that financial institutions alone are expected to invest $1B this year and next in developing blockchain.

Some companies, like IBM, are hoping for a more open system, in the vein of Linux, while others, mostly software developers and some banks data carriers, are looking to have an IP leg up on the competition and to keep the technology at least somewhat proprietary. This would give non-financial and other players a chance to profit from licensing and encourage more investment.

Mysterious Origins

The story of blockchain and its early promotion as the technology underlying bitcoin is fascinating if not mysterious. It appears to start with Craig Wright, who claims to be the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright, an Australian, recently announced that he has filed 50 blockchain technology and crypto-currency related patents in the UK. Why the UK? That’s another question. And why has Wright announced his applications rather that wait to for them to issue or publish?

Where there are bitcoins and other crypto-currencies, reports, CoinDesk, an industry publication, there are patents, which could be worth far more than the currency if found to be valid and infringed. However, these patents will be difficult to prove valid. The USPTO and most courts (after the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Alice) are now taking the position that most software is not inventive, and merely automates previously established inventions.

However, not everyone agrees. Two Hogan Lovells attorneys say that “Viewed as providing an improved computer data structure, [our] proposed bitcoin method claim should be precisely the type of improvement to computer functionality that is still patentable under Alice.”

Blockchain patent applications have generated an unusual amount of publicity. Whether these patents will issue or if they are capable of sustaining validity upon PTAB and district court scrutiny is unclear. Business Insider obtained a copy of the US patent, filed on May 10, for a passcode blockchain that Verizon has apparently been working on for three years.

“There is quite a bit of excitement about having digital rights on a blockchain-type system. It could allow for pay-per-usage, for example, while smart contracts — the contractual clauses that form part of a transaction — could provide automatic payment distributions, according to a Moody’s Investors Service report.

“A blockchain of digital rights for consumer products — music and news articles, among others — could ensure that artists or authors are paid immediately once a consumer reads an article or listens to a song, with funds proportionally distributed as per contractual clauses.”

Goldman Sachs is among the big banks excited about the blockchain. Thirty banks have now signed up to the R3 or R3CEV partnership. R3, based out of New York, is trying to establish industry-wide standards and protocols for using the technology, as well as exploring potential use cases.

Business Insider’s coverage of blockchain is very useful for getting a handle on how it works and may be applied. Go here for a stream of articles with useful diagrams, including the triptych in this post.

Establishing Blockchain Standards

Establishing standards for blockchain will also be difficult.

R3 CEV, a startup working in blockchain which launched in September 2015, reports the Wall Street Journal, named the project Concord for the harmony it hopeblockchains to build among more than 60 banks participating in the project. The consortium originally started with nine multinational banks. The group currently includes Barclays PLC, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

“Perhaps the most important difference between Concord and bitcoin and ethereum is the way transactions are recorded. With bitcoin and ethereum, every transaction is recorded, verified and disclosed immediately in their public, distributed ledgers. With Concord, while the transaction is verified via a distributed ledger, it isn’t publicly disclosed. The details are shared only by the parties involved.

“Figuring out the best way to use blockchain-based tools in the financial-services industry has become a hot topic. A number of firms, including Digital Asset Holdings, HyperLedger Project, Ripple, Microsoft’s Azure, and others are all working on products to take advantage of the new technology.”

A number of companies of various types and sizes have filed blockchain or related crypto-currency patents. The emphasis on patent applications, as most people in the IP world know, is more style than substance. CoinDesk reports eight companies filing and Quatrz comments on ten Bank of America’s patent applications publishing on December 17.

Leading patent recipient IBM is taking a more holistic approach to blockchain, integrating it under a recently announced new business unit, Industry Platforms, that includes cloud computing and artificial intelligence, and that will work closely with the financial services and other industries.

Industry Platforms will have company-wide responsibility for blockchain research and development, according to CoinDesk, in addition to helping foster open technology standards with the stated goal of accelerating market adoption. Project-based innovation leveraging open source technology has had great success in avoiding litigation in the core technology generated by these projects.

The new unit represents the next phase in IBM’s blockchain initiative, building on past activities that have resulted in a range of prototypes, and play a leading role in the Linux Foundation-led HyperLedger Project. In parallel and with the support of R3, HyperLedger is the largest and most organized Blockchain initiative.

“Truth Telling” Design

“Blockchain’s design prevents the owner of a currency token from committing fraud by spending it twice,” reports Bloomberg Business Week. “The first spend is recorded for all to see, so no one would ever accept a second spend.

alaindelorme-murmuration03“The truth-telling feature of blockchain makes it enormously useful to banks, which have been among the first to start testing it. Microsoft launched blockchain as a service last year. Smaller companies are building dozens of apps on blockchain, such as one for musicians to track and collect royalties on their works.”

“The poetic vision of a blockchain society is a flock of starlings at dusk: decentralized yet perfectly coordinated. Blockchainers like to show video clips of murmurations—those enormous clouds of birds that pivot and wheel, climb and dive, split and merge with amazing grace. Blockchain, in this vision, could replace gobs of bankers, accountants, and lawyers, as well as escrow accounts, insurance, and everything else that society invented pre-21st century to verify payments and the performance of contracts.”

Benefits for IP Holders 

The promise of blockchain to streamline important, voluminous tasks is uniquely important to IP holders. It could provide an opportunity to copyright and other IP dependent businesses and individuals (patent holders, too) to track and receive incremental payments that in the past were difficult to comprehend; blockchain could serve to minimize disputes in ways that the courts and PTAB have not.

Right now, no one really knows what blockchain has wrought or what it is capable of, but there is a strong feeling that the distributed public ledger technology can be a catalyst for new ways of doing business, and that IP rights will play a role. There are a lot of businesses pulling for blockchain to succeed, and hoping that it will be will be readily shared.

__________________

UPDATE:

A Goldman Sachs patent application, published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Sept. 8, 2016, was originally filed in March 2015. It outlines a distributed ledger that can process financial transactions in the foreign exchange market, reports Quartz. It’s Goldman’s first blockchain-related patent.

Image source: Goldman Sachs Global Research; businessinsider.com; mnn.com (Alain Delorme)

“Patent Investor” tracks licensing company shares & developments

A new weekly is the first to feature in-depth coverage of public intellectual property monetization companies (PIPCOs). 

I’ve been following The Patent Investor for a few weeks, wondering what news it could provide beyond what I already know and hear about the PIPCO space.

What I discovered is that TPI regularly contains news of developments and trends useful to those interested in or affected by patent licensing businesses – especially the publicly held kind. Editor/reporter Dan Lonkevich goes beyond news releases and news about PIPCOs reported in the business press, to provide the relevant facts that investors need to make informed decisions, and those on that defendants in NPE disputes may wish to be aware of.

He is also not afraid to report bad news or delve into SEC filings, nor is he reluctant to portray a company in a less than favorable light – essential for a credible investor newsletter.

Lonkevich previously worked as the senior editor for The DealFlow Report, a unit of The Street Inc. Prior to that he was a reporter for Bloomberg News in New York. While at Bloomberg, he covered the insurance TPI_Mastheadbusiness, mergers and acquisitions and oil and gas companies. Prior to that, he worked as an associate editor for The National Underwriter and was a reporter for Bestweek, a newsletter  covering the insurance business published by insurance rating company A.M. Best Co.

The Patent Investor, which began publication last year, looks at the publicly listed businesses involved that license and sell patents, and the performance of their shares. TPI differs from Intangible Investor, a column that I write for IAM magazine, which considers PIPCOs, as well as a broad range of indirect investors or IP stakeholders, including operating businesses.

The website describes the newsletter as “uniquely and solely devoted to covering the patent monetization business, unlike more mainstream business and legal publications. It is intended to be of interest to investors, inventors, entrepreneurs, attorneys and investment bankers who work with the growing number of patent monetization companies.”

At $899 for an annual group subscription ($299 for individual subscriptions) TPI, while good value, is not for everyone. However, the cover of each issue, with the first paragraph of key stories, is available for free. Those interested in a sample issue or subscription can receive one.

To see the cover of the latest issue or for a sample, go here.

TPI’s article archive can be found here.

Image source: thepatentinvestor.com

New Wealth of Nations is Focus of Int’l IP Gathering

550+ to Participate in 2011 CIP Forum –

The New Wealth of Nations is the focus of a gathering to be hosted May 29-June by the Center for Intellectual Property Studies in Sweden.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the bi-annual event. If past experience is any indication, CIP Forum will be one of the more outstanding IP gatherings to be held in Europe or the U.S.

Co-organizers Ulf Petrusson and Bo Heidenhave their collective finger on the IP pulse. They know how to create a unique chemistry that attracts impassioned iPeople from far and wide. This year they are inviting executives and investors to talk about capturing and managing innovation and the role of open innovation. Among the goals is to help nations understand the impact of their new intangible wealth.

At CIP Forum it is not uncommon to hear conversations among international IP holders, valuation experts, patent brokers, investors, academics, business executives, entrepreneurs, advisors, NPEs, inventors and students. [Click here for more information about the 2011 CIP Forum.]

Seldom do (V)IP figures like this year’s chair, Ruud Peters of CEO of Philips IP and Standards, and Marshall Phelps, former Microsoft and IBM head of IP business and strategy, mix with business, engineering and IP management students, government policy makers and private equity investors in an unabashedly international setting.

Discussion and feisty debate at CIP Forum often carry over to the festivities and private dinners around Gothenburg. It starts with a welcome cocktail reception on Sunday evening, May 29, just after the my workshop.

Yes, your intrepid IP Insider has been asked to chair the 2011 Valuation & Finance Mini-Track on Sunday afternoon. I look forward to seeing some of my loyal readers there as well as a few who would rather throw tomatoes. Bring your difficult questions to The New Wealth of Nations CIP FORUM 2011- ENG in Gothenburg in May, and don’t be afraid to challenge current IP practices.

After all , IP management has a short history — a few decades, at most — and, more than anything, CIP Forum is about breaking new ground for innovation and IP capital everywhere.

Illustration source: cipforum.org

Latest SF Tech Boomlet Fuels Jobs & More

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs — & IP Deals, Too!

If a recent news article about the San Francisco economy is any indication, politicians may soon be campaigning not only on jobs creation but on IP transactions.

The Wall Street Journal writes about how SF is enjoying a mini-renaissance as a tech center. Web and digital media companies have begun to take advantage of low City rents and available talent.

Embedded in an easy to miss graph about jobs creation is an unusual statistic; something I don’t believe I’ve seen before and certainly not in the major business press. Included along with data showing an increase in more than 1700 IT jobs in 2008 and 2009: 100+ Intellectual Property Transactions.

That’s right, IP transactions. Do my eyes deceive me? IP regarded in the same context as job creation? For long-time IP evangelists it doesn’t get much better than this. (Well, actually, it can.)

WSJ’s data source is the Labor Department and the SF Office of the Controller. I wonder if the Controller is tracking transactions or WSJ added them. I doubt the Labor Department cares much about IP activity.

*    *     *

This begs a question: What the heck does the WSJ mean by IP transactions? Patent licensing deals? Sales? Acquisitions? Copyright licenses on Web content? Venture capital raised?

VC Charles River Ventures is quoted in the article. They are an investor in SF-based RPX Corporation, a defensive patent aggregator that is said to be considering a public offering.

I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouse. It’s great that a veteran reporter like Pui-Wing Tam, who has covered start-ups and VCs, had the foresight to include SF IP transactions with jobs growth. It would just be nice to know what they are.

As much as I condone their asendance, I’m concerned that “IP transactions” in general are too abstract to be linked to jobs as an economic indicator. We need to know how the term is being used and how transactions’ impact are being measured. Bravo, I think.

*     *     *

P.S. – There is a reason for the accompanying scan. The soft piece, “Tech Buoys San Francisco,” at wsj.com for some reason dropped the “Growing Field” graphic that ran in the newspaper.

Pui-Wing told me that the graph was sourced to analysis that the SF Office of the Controller did of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Illustration source: The Wall Street Journal, 10/13/10 print edition

IP Services Buyout

Acquistion Values CPA Global at $1.5B

A majority stake in CPA Global, one of the largest patent and legal services companies, was recently acquired by a buyout group led by Intermediate Capital Group PLC (ICP.LN). 

According to Dow Jones in London and the Financial Times, details of the transaction weren’t disclosed but a person close to the deal said the enterprise value of the deal was around GBP470 million and ICG is taking a 47% stake for that. Management will hold 22% and the balance will be held by the company’s current 300 or so shareholders, most of whom are partners at the law firms that founded the business.

The way I read this is that ICG’s 47% stake is worth about $734 million (USD) and the entire company’s value is approximately GBP950 or just under $1.5 billion (USD). Not a bad valuation for an effectively low-tech IP services business.

CPA’s crown jewels, as I understand them, are its IP renewals business. With scores of patent and trademark holders’ maintenance fees paid through CPA there is a significant “float,” which much like a bank or other financial institution CPA is able to monetize. At current, historically low interest rates CPA Global’s renewals business is an excellent buy. With even modest inflation, which most observers feel is inevitable, in a few years CPA is likely to be worth a hearty multiple of what ICG paid for it. Cheers.


%d bloggers like this: