Monday, 15 June 2015

ORoPO – One small step for patent owners, one giant leap for IP

Today is the launch of ORoPO, the Open Register of Patent Ownership, at IPBC 2015 in San Francisco. We are delighted to be involved in an initiative that offers a simple solution to significant problems with the accuracy of patent ownership records.

As our research in March suggested, 77 organisations own 25% of the world’s granted patents and 773 own 50% of the world’s patents. This means, with a little cooperation, it should be possible to establish a global and accurate register of patent ownership. And that is just what is happening with support from organisations like IBM, Microsoft, ARM, BAE Systems, Shazam, Patent Properties, Conversant, and Finjan.

Operated by its founder members, and led by CEO Roger Burt, ORoPO is supported by an illustrious advisory board and includes, amongst others, David Kappos (Cravath, Swaine & Moore and former director at the USPTO), Sir Robin Jacob (UCL and former IP judge), Sir Nigel Shadbolt (co-founder of the Open Data Institute), Tony Clayton (formerly Chief Economist of the UK IPO) and Heather Meeker (O’Melveny & Myers).

Not just a movie but a problem
for patent ownership records too
Information about who owns the world’s patents is currently held at 180 patent offices worldwide. However, a combination of data entry and translation errors, a lack of corporate naming harmonisation and the absence of regulation requiring changes in ownership be recorded, means an estimated 25% of this information is inaccurate, incomplete or simply out of date. These inaccuracies have serious consequences for the exploitation of intellectual property assets that now account for up to 70% of enterprise value. ORoPO’s CEO commented that: “Uncertainty around patent ownership inflates transaction costs, discourages the monetisation of patent rights through licensing and innovation and holds back the evolution of intellectual property as a functioning asset class. Without clear line of sight to ownership, the markets simply will not engage.”

Will ORoPO succeed in fixing this substantial problem?

We’re at the very beginning of this journey but with support from the IP luminaries like Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel at IBM and Erich Andersen, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, the horizon looks bright. As more organisations follow these IP trailblazers, we can expect to see greater innovation in business, the IP market becoming a more transparent place with greater liquidity, less arbitraging and the end of troll-like behaviour. In short ORoPO is a significant step towards patents being a fully functional asset class.

To find out more about ORoPO visit and download Who Owns the World’s Patents? Why patent ownership data accuracy is a problem worth solving, a report sponsored by Aistemos.

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