Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Understanding IP: The Big Data solution

In a contribution to ITPro Portal this weekend, Aistemos CTE Steve Harris writes:
A great deal of intellectual property data is available today, including patent, trade mark and design data from the 200 IP registries around the world and litigation data from the courts [This sounds really useful, but ...].

Time pressure can lead
to record-keeping errors
Patent registries across the globe work more-or-less independently, so there is no one view of individual inventions protected in multiple countries, and no clear view of ownership [since the same IP right may be owned by different entities in different jurisdictions]. The information relating to ownership of IP assets is typically poorly normalised, with no consistent identifiers [unsurprising, if you consider that some corporate names cannot be easily replicated or transliterated into other languages], and is often out of date [an IP right may have been invalidated, assigned or licensed a considerable time before the official records are updated]. More than 1,500 patent applications per day were sent to the US office alone in 2014 [even assuming a hour working day, that's 150 applications an hour, or one every 24 seconds], and any of them could have a profound effect on a sector, so tracking changes in this area can be critically important.

Identifying IP assets is only the starting point. To build up a complete picture requires the consideration of all data that impacts the value or risk of the assets – for instance ownership, licensing and litigation data. Once this data is assembled we can apply machine learning and data science to summarise, identify trends, spot anomalies, and find stable and reliable indications of risk and value [the downside being that this data assemblage has a limited shelf-life and may decay quickly if any one of the components that help make it p turns out to be volatile]
Turning to analytics, which is a polite way of saying "the way you squeeze a bit of sensible meaning out of Big Data (whatever that means)", Steve continues:
Analytics should be treated as the starting point for human interpretation, not a replacement for it and, by extension, the better the data and analytics, the better the basis on which human interpretation of the facts can be built [it cannot be strongly enough emphasized that analytics isn't a panacea; it's a process that leads to a data-driven product that helps humans make decisions but doesn't do that for them].

A Big Data solution provides immediate access to business intelligence related to IP, leaving it for users to make informed decisions based on those same facts, circumstances, needs and requirements. Knowing where your competitors are investing lets you counter future changes of direction, and knowing where your IP portfolio is strong or weak lets you know how you sit in the marketplace, and allows you to foresee future litigation risks.
You can read Steve's article, "Understanding IP: The Big Data solution", in full on ITPro Portal here.

If you want to do something about making patent records more reliable -- you can!  Visit the ORoPO Foundation website and see for yourself.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Car manufacturers or part suppliers: who’s in the patent driving seat?

The days of innocence, when car-makers
designed and manufactured their own
parts, are unlikely ever to return
The automotive industries have long been a legal battleground. Car manufacturers’ once-total control was first challenged by calls to open up the market for parts and components to greater competition. Then, greater standardisation of parts saw economic power shift from the motor brands to suppliers, which no longer relied on a single customer. Now, in an era of open innovation, suppliers not only make parts to order but also innovate whether in tandem with their customers or with other suppliers to create value-added product enhancements over which they have control. If bargaining power is a function of IP ownership, it has been slipping out of the hands of the manufacturers, which may have been able to secure the IP rights in the fruits of collaborative research with suppliers but have no such leverage over the increasing volume of innovation that is supplier generated.

The past 18 months have seen the most rapid and stunning shifts yet in this turbulent industry sector, as Tesla, Ford and Toyota have opened up several thousands of automotive patents, mainly in the electric vehicle, battery and fuel cell fields. In the cases of Tesla and Toyota, this use is free. Why?

Major car manufacturers are not charitable foundations. They are driven by investment and depend for their continued existence on delivering a return. Patents are cash-generating assets. If they are to produce value correlative to the cost of developing them, how can this be done if they are neither sold nor commercially licensed and are dropped as barriers to market entry?

Opening an automotive patent portfolio for free use can achieve many things strategically.
The rise of suppliers' patents, if not always consistent,
appears inexorable (
© Cipher 2015)

First, it reduces the risk of defending invalidity claims and, while patent litigation in the sector has never been close to the white-hot intensity of mobile telecommunications, it has been expensive and unsettling enough to be worth avoiding.
Where car-makers patent is an indication of their market plans  (© Cipher 2015)

Secondly, it provides a basis on which the patent owner’s innovations can become normative within the sector, or at least a ground on which they can be part of a standard shared with other manufacturers. This may have the result of locking recipients of free licences into products, components and manufacturing processes that will give them the option of related improvements and innovations that are not free to use – and for which they will have to pay. This Cipher Snapshot of the spread of fuel cell patents at the time of Toyota’s opening-up illustrates that it is virtually impossible for a single player to monopolise the entire market, which indicates that some sort of sharing or standardising arrangement offers the most realistic opportunity to benefit from an investment.
The spread of suppliers' patents is equally indicative of their intent (© Cipher 2015)

Thirdly, if there is a struggle between the car manufacturer and its suppliers for control of the direction the industry takes, opening up thousands of patents for free licensing can take the wind out of the sails of innovative suppliers, whose backers will ask what is to be gained by investing in new technologies that, however good they may be, are competing with free-to-use ones.

Is this third point plausible? Read on to find out.

This blogpost is based on an earlier IAM Industry Report, "Car manufacturers or part suppliers: who’s in the patent driving seat?", which you can read in full here.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Tops and bottoms are fine, but what about the middle?

Attractive, but vulnerable to predators
Unicorns, packed full of investors' cash, occupy the high ground in the ecology of innovative start-ups. There are not very many of them,  As of 25 August 2015 the Fortune Unicorn web page listed just 120 of them worldwide, following the addition of Hootsuite and Illumio.  While the media and some investors are enchanted by them, we actually know less than we like: for example, there is no easy information about launches that were intended to gain Unicorn status but never quite got there, or for that matter start-ups that made a conscious decision to avoid becoming Unicorns, perhaps because of their vulnerability.  Sending out a fabulously rich, commercially inexperienced and possibly IP-light enterprise into the big wide world is a bit like piling Little Red Riding Hood with lavish goodies before pointing her in the direction of the forest in the hope that she will find her grandmother's cottage before the Big Bad Wolf finds her.

Good for Little Red Riding-
Hood? The Ruit backwards
backpack, via Kickstarter
Curiously enough, life at the top of the pile is mirrored by activity at the bottom, where start-ups are small enough to benefit from crowd-sourced finance through mechanisms like Kickstarter and Crowdfunder. In each case the investor feels a large degree of comfort: for Unicorns there is the knowledge that the venture is wealthy enough to tackle serious IP infringement litigation and to buy assets to complement its own launch portfolio, while with crowd funding there's the feeling that the amount ventured -- if not trivially low -- will not hurt if the investor doesn't see it again.  And while big investors take extra comfort from the identity and commitment of other possibly big name or commercially savvy backers, small investors in crowd-funded feel secure in the belief that there is wisdom in crowds and large numbers of sane, rational small investors would not consciously make the same mistake.

Both Unicorns and crowd-funded ventures attract publicity on the traditional and social media to the point at which it can be easy to forget that both phenomena are exceptions: by far the largest proportion of start-ups (there being no such thing as a typical one) have to approach the various suppliers of more typical finance, often repeatedly explaining the same basics to lenders whose assets consist of the money they lend and who are more anxious to see those assets returned with interest than to buy into a borrower's dream. 

Can the path for the vast majority of start-ups be made easier? Business plans are often viewed with suspicion since they are drawn up by those who have an interest in raising capital based on them. Few prospective borrowers have yet turned to IP analytics as a means of bolstering the evidence provided by a business plan, by enabling lenders to comprehend and visualise the position of a new product that may not even be on the market, showing how it might establish a niche from which competitors cannot easily dislodge it. As IP analytics gains ground as a discipline and products such as Cipher and its competitors become more widely used and accepted, things may indeed look up for start-up borrowers of all sizes.

For further reading on Unicorns, see "Unicorns: what they are -- and why we should care", here.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Beta, but can it be better? PatentsView open for trial

Among the many fascinating data- and information-related items picked up by the ever-vigilant Sabrina I. Pacifici for her beSpacific website ("Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002"), is the following item, headed "USPTO PatentsView Beta" last Friday.  Drawn from the PatentsView "About" link, with a few of our comments interspersed in bold red, the text reads thus:
Open data can be full
of little surprises
 
PatentsView is a prototype patent data visualization and analysis platform intended to increase the value, utility, and transparency of US patent data. The initiative is supported by the Office of Chief Economist in the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), with additional support from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) [it's notable that this initiative to increase transparency comes from one of the world's currently most transparent IP offices; it appears to be consonant with the demands, which it antedates, made by the Data Transparency Coalition, also recorded by beSpacific and discussed by Aistemos here]
The PatentsView initiative was established in 2012 and is a collaboration between USPTO, USDA, the Center for the Science of Science and Innovation Policy, the University of California at Berkeley, Twin Arch Technologies, and Periscopic. The PatentsView platform is built on a newly developed database that longitudinally links inventors, their organizations, locations, and overall patenting activity. The platform uses data derived from USPTO bulk data files. These data are provided for research purposes and do not constitute the official USPTO record [to the extent that the visualisation reflects bulk data and not the status or content of individual patents, this will presumably not be a matter of concern]
The data visualization tool, query tool, and flexible API enable a broad spectrum of users to examine the dynamics of inventor patenting activity over time and space [well, some space: the data is drawn from US records alone]. They also permit users to explore patent technologies, assignees, citation patterns and co-inventor networks. For researchers in particular, PatentsView is intended to encourage the study and understanding of the intellectual property (IP) and innovation system; to serve as a fundamental function of the government in creating “public good” platforms in these data; and to eliminate the wasteful and redundant cleaning, converting and matching of these data by many individual researchers, thus freeing up researcher time to do what they do best—study IP, innovation, and technological change. 
This initiative is directly responsive to the President’s open government agenda. In the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, issued on January 21, 2009, the President instructed the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue an Open Government Directive. This directive described the steps that executive agencies should take towards the goal of creating a more open government. Those steps are: 
(1) publish government information online; 
(2) improve the quality of government information; 
(3) create and institutionalize a culture of open government; and 
(4) create an enabling policy framework for open government. 
In addition, USDA’s Agricultural Research Services agency has successfully piloted a study to demonstrate the feasibility of using PatentsView data to automatically describe the patenting activity of USDA-supported researchers. USDA administrative data from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Service, and the US Forest Service have been linked with PatentsView data and can be visualized in the prototype web tool. 
The current PatentsView platform is a prototype and the team welcomes feedback [by email to cssip@air.org] on data discrepancies”.
Looking further, the PatentsView website has some significant confessions to make: it states, among other things:
Assignee Disambiguation 
The PatentsView data generation process does not fully disambiguate the names of assignees. A preliminary disambiguation of the records corrects for minor misspellings by applying the Jaro-Winkler string similarity algorithm to each pair of raw assignee records. In other words, records that are within a certain bound of similarity are considered the same and are linked together. ...
A corresponding note addresses inventor disambiguation.

Patent owners with the same or slightly different names, and the problems they may cause, are part of the reason why the ORoPO Foundation launched just three months ago a voluntary register of publicly-accessible and verified accurate patent ownership records. A low level of error in patent records is unlikely to cause major problems where large amounts of data are aggregated, analysed and visualised, but can cause serious financial loss or market misdirection in individual cases.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Birthday keynote event: an update

On 3 September we announced Aistemos's forthcoming Birthday Party in London's elegant Hospital Club on 22 October.

We also announced that the party would be graced by some appropriate words from keynote speaker Valerio Nannini, Head of Strategies and Performance at Nestlé, a man who has a unique perspective in the management of innovation in one of the world’s largest companies.

Good news is that Valerio is not alone; he is to be joined by Brian Hinman. Chief Intellectual Property Office at Philips, Eindhoven. 

If you'd like an invitation, just email Sue Harvey (as many of you already have). 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Keeping track, losing track: when data and human endeavour collide

"Three quarters of companies are investing in big data, but the ROI remains elusive" is the headline of Colin Barker's ZDNet article yesterday.  Writing about Survey Analysis: Practical Challenges Mount as Big Data Moves to Mainstream, covering a June 2015 Gartner survey of 437 large organisations, Barker relates of ROI ("return on investment") that
When asked about the ROI expected from big data, the majority of those companies with plans to invest in big data and those that have invested expect an unspecified, positive ROI. However, a large proportion of companies (43 per cent of those planning to invest and 38 per cent of those that have already invested) don't know if their ROI will be positive or negative.

"This uncertainty highlights the challenges in determining the value of big data projects," the report said.
While there are many possible explanations as to why ROI should remain elusive or uncertain -- and maybe even a different explanation in each instance -- and without prejudice to the fact that Big Data means different things to different people, there is one possibility that suggests itself. 


Like Bigfoot, ROI can be
elusive -- but something
can be done about it.
Identification of the sort of data one wants is relatively easy. Assuming that the data sought is actually out there, can be harvested and is capable of being brought home in an intelligible format, acquiring it shouldn't be too much of a problem either. But once it is accessible, is the organisation that has invested in it geared up to be able to make effective use of it? Does the acquisition of such data involve different gearing of corporate decision-making processes, different analytic routines, or new procedures for signing off of expenditure arising from its use? How is it curated and distributed within the organisation and are steps in place to deal with its obsolescence and subsequent refreshment or replacement where necessary?  The absence of new routines for taking advantage of Big Data, or unfamiliarity with them, can easily lead to a diminution of its value.

Thinking about it, an analogous issue arises with regard to the very opposite of Big Data: small and individualised items of information of the sort that, when amassed and commoditised, collectively form databases from which Big Data may be collated.  This was apparent from a discussion that took place in a workshop today in Vienna at the annual conference of MARQUES, the European trade mark organisation. 

The workshop, "M&As and restructuring: brand challenges", led by the organisation's Intellectual Asset Management Team. took a fascinating turn when Dieuwerke van der Schalk (Legal Manager, Global Brands, Jacobs Douwe Egberts) and Nunzia Varricchio (Senior Trade Mark Counsel, DSM) spoke of problems that can occur during the M&A process when decisions taken at the top of the corporate tree cause havoc with day-to-day management of IP portfolios because no system, or only an inadequate one, is put in place for distributing, processing and acting upon those decisions. In result of this, data from individual patent, trade mark or design files can end up floating freely around, being effectively lost.

The workshop threw up plenty of examples of things that can go wrong when there is no internal scheme and structure for dealing with information. Obligations of confidentiality that are absolutely necessary during negotiations where an IP portfolio is at the heart of a transaction may only get in the way once knowledge of the deal becomes public and it has to be put into effect; uncertainty as to which side does what when it comes to due diligence, compliance with record-keeping formalities and the like may cause problems too; records of licences and assignments may disappear into data rooms or even be archived just when it is imperative to gain access to them for routine IP right maintenance; and in-house IP departments may be under impossible pressure of time and resources when required to become involved in executing at ground level the decision made up at the top of the tree.  

To put it another, there is all the difference between deciding to buy a portfolio of 10,000 registered IP rights and sitting down to sort out all the details of 10,000 separate items of property, with their respective renewal dates, territorial limitations, caveats, litigation track records and so on.

So the moral of the story is this: whether it's Big Data or little data, your ROI will be enhanced if you can set up a realistic system to keep an eye on how your information is processed and used.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Aistemos on LinkedIn: have you checked us out?

Aistemos operates a carefully moderated LinkedIn Group, in which our readers and friends -- and indeed anyone who is concerned with problems faced in the IP space and how better information can resolve them -- is welcome to participate.

Topics currently available for discussion on the Aistemos LinkedIn Group include the following:
* Unicorns: does the concept of the billion-dollar start-up tell us about the behaviour of investors than about the nature of innovative business? 
* Reliability of prior art data and the use of Wikipedia by patent examiners;
* Patent examination and the extent to which the private sector can or should participate in this important activity; 
* Whether information-gathering organisations like national patent offices can do more to gather the sort of data that is useful to business and industry;

* Start-ups and multi-tasking: sometimes the problem facing new businesses relate not so much to what they have to do but to the order in which they have to do it;

* Whether it makes better sense to invest in brands than in patents in areas where patent cliffs and generic competition exist;

* How we can improve the reliability and accessibility of patent ownership records;

* The meaning of the term "big data" -- does it have a precise and useful meaning or has it become a just a devalued label and a slogan for attracting attention;

* ORoPO -- the Open Register of Patent Ownership: does anyone have experience of using it which they can share?
Do feel free to join our discussions and to give us, and other members of the Group, the benefit of your own thoughts.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

IPRs and collective resistance to frivolous patent suits: changing the game, or just the rules?

Threatened businesses: safety in numbers,
or lambs to the slaughter?
Recently spotted on Inside Counsel is this piece, "Patexia helps collaboratively fight frivolous patent litigation", which writes up the Patexia Coalition Funding Initiative, the latest drive to solve individual businesses' problems through collective action. The idea is that companies facing expensive patent litigation in the United States come together to fund and file an inter partes review (IPR) of the patent they are said to be infringing. The article explains, in relevant part:
"... In the IP industry, bad actors routinely file patent suits simultaneously targeting a large group of companies using the same patent. In many cases, these actors use low quality patents to try to force defendants to settle rather than face a lengthy and expensive litigation process.

According to Patexia, the new coalition funding initiative provides an efficient solution. Patexia monitors new patent litigation across industries and when a frivolous case is filed, Patexia immediately reaches out to the targeted companies to bring them together and form a defense coalition.

Then, using proven crowdsourced patent analysis techniques with a 75 percent success rate based on client feedback, Patexia searches for prior art and partners with experienced legal counsel to take the case to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for an inter-partes review, in an effort to eliminate the threat. ...

Companies ... contribute as little as $50,000 for a crowdsourced prior art search and the IPR. Going it alone, to fight patent litigation through IPR a company must pay $27,000 in PTAB filing fees alone (not including the attorney and expert fees). Oftentimes, total litigation costs can spike into the millions ..".
Initiatives like this can have the beneficial effect of eliminating low quality patents that lie at the core of frivolous infringement litigation -- but so long as the low quality can be tied to the existence of killer prior art, since IPRs must relate to lack of novelty under s.102 of the US patent law or non-obvious subject matter under s. 103. If however the low quality relates to the lack of precision of the patent's description of the invention or in its claims, a prior art-based attack will not be available.  Bad actors will presumably respond to shifts in the legal and commercial environment in which they operate, so the success of collective initiatives in beating the current threat may end up just shifting it from one variety of frivolous demand to another.
 
Bad players may also take note of the cost to individual businesses of collective resistance: a minimum of $50,000 for what looks like a 75% success rate. How much might they demand from businesses in order to make a licence payment more financially attractive to their victims than doing the honourable thing and clubbing together to fight the foe?
 
No rational company wants to walk away from a legitimate business because it is threatened by an unworthy patent infringement claim, and no rational company wants to pay for the privilege of what it is already permitted to do. However, there is no monopoly in rational analysis, and it must be assumed that the bad players make rational choices too -- and they will be unwilling to abandon a trading model that has hitherto incurred little cost and brought great gain.  It is therefore necessary to consider whether collective IPR challenges are really a game-changer, as most people hope they might be, or if they will only result in the same old game of hunt-the-licensee, played with different rules.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Unicorns: what are they -- and why we should care

Earlier this year The Wall Street Journal published a list of 'unicorns' – start-ups valued at $1 billion or more. By July 2015 there were more than 100 and as at August 27 2015 there were 115. The companies are spread across 11 sectors: software, hardware, consumer internet, e-commerce, financial services, healthcare, gaming and entertainment, energy, education, aerospace and defence and real estate.
Taking a closer look at the importance of patents to these companies, the headlines are as follows:
  • More than over half own patent rights and US unicorns lead the way.
  • Counting does not count when trying to understanding IP strategy.
  • Youth counts against unicorns and almost one-third have bolstered their position through acquisition.
  • Unicorns are prime targets for non-practising entities (NPEs), but it is not long before the hunted learn to hunt.
Where do you find a unicorn that likes patents?
The companies with the largest portfolios are Chinese smartphone vendor Xiaomi and drone maker DJI. However, the largest concentration of patent owners is based in the United States (49 of the 67 patent-owning companies).
The fact that 45% of the companies own no patents at all may seem surprising. However, this is not as extreme as it seems when appreciating that many (22 out of 41) e-commerce and consumer internet companies outside the United States exist in jurisdictions where software patents can be much harder to secure. Even in the United States, companies such as SpaceX place significant emphasis on trade secrets – a reminder that there are many ways to protect innovation.
How do you measure the strength of a unicorn’s patents?
There are many ways of using IP analytics; when considering unicorns, there is a big difference between counting and what counts. DJI has the largest granted portfolio (171 families) and Xiaomi has the most applications (1,912 pending patent families). But both of these companies focus entirely on China, which has implications for those with plans to compete globally. Of the top 10 in terms of portfolio size, only Jawbone, Intarcia Therapeutics and Proteus Digital have a global patent strategy.
Overall, the data shows that US-based unicorns focus more on patents – which tells you something about both the US patenting (and patent litigation) system and the mindset of those who invest in and advise these companies.
If you want to read more, you'll find further data and analysis on IAM's Industry Report, "Billion dollar start-ups: do unicorns like patents?", here

Friday, 4 September 2015

Patent information and reliability: the case of Wikipedia

Is this how we should view prior art
that we find on the internet?
Spotted recently on SSRN is an article by Adam M. Wilson and Gene E. Likens that should be of interest and concern to anyone who has a passion for reliable data and valid patents: it's "Content Volatility of Scientific Topics in Wikipedia: A Cautionary Tale", published in PLoS ONE (a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science).

You can read the article in full here; its abstract reads like this:
“Wikipedia has quickly become one of the most frequently accessed encyclopedic references, despite the ease with which content can be changed and the potential for ‘edit wars’ surrounding controversial topics. Little is known about how this potential for controversy affects the accuracy and stability of information on scientific topics, especially those with associated political controversy. Here we present an analysis of the Wikipedia edit histories for seven scientific articles and show that topics we consider politically but not scientifically “controversial” (such as evolution and global warming) experience more frequent edits with more words changed per day than pages we consider “noncontroversial” (such as the standard model in physics or heliocentrism). For example, over the period we analyzed, the global warming page was edited on average (geometric mean ±SD) 1.9±2.7 times resulting in 110.9±10.3 words changed per day, while the standard model in physics was only edited 0.2±1.4 times resulting in 9.4±5.0 words changed per day. 
The high rate of change observed in these pages makes it difficult for experts to monitor accuracy and contribute time-consuming corrections, to the possible detriment of scientific accuracy. As our society turns to Wikipedia as a primary source of scientific information, it is vital we read it critically and with the understanding that the content is dynamic and vulnerable to vandalism and other shenanigans.”
Should this worry us? Yes. Given that materials on the internet, and Wikipedia itself, are used as sources of prior art in patent law, the ephemeral and potentially unreliable content of online postings may be the critical factor that enables a granted patent to be invalidated.

This is not a new problem, as can be gleaned from Michael White's Patent Librarian's Notebook posts back in 2009 and 2010 here and here and from the European Patent Office's decision T 1134/06 (Internet Citations), subsequently revisited on various occasions (there's a good EPLAW  blogpost on the subject late last year here).  But the issue has until now been seen as simply a matter of validity of an individual patent in terms of its ability to control manufacture, products and processes. The value of a patent as a securitised asset in the hands of a lender, and the potential impact of unreliable or uncertain prior art, does not yet seem to have generated its own literature or mode of operation. Maybe it should start doing so soon.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Birthday keynote event!

Birthdays, like patent renewal and expiry dates, are facts on the calendar -- and they can reliably be expected to fall unfailingly on the same date every year.  Birthday parties are however more flexible, to the relief of those who organise them and the pleasure and convenience of those who attend.

Aistemos, according to its most recent Newsletter, has now set the date for its own second birthday party: 22 October. While some birthday parties are enhanced by the performance of a conjurer, magician, puppeteer or person who makes animal shapes out of balloons, this party will be graced by some appropriate words from keynote speaker Valerio Nannini, Head of Strategies and Performance at Nestlé, a man who has a unique perspective in the management of innovation in one of the world’s largest companies.

The party venue is the Hospital Club, 24 Endell Street, London WC2H 9HQ.

If you would like an invitation, do let Sue Harvey know by email and she'll do the necessary.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Reliable patent ownership records: an ORoPO update

Ten weeks on from the launch of the Open Register of Patent Ownership (ORoPO), the number of companies that have made their verified patent ownership records available for consultation and use has risen to 11.   The ORoPO Register, which includes industry-leading patent owners ARM, BAE, IBM and Microsoft have recently been joined by three more companies:
* Allied Security Trust (AST), a member-based patent holding company that helps protect its members from patent infringement lawsuits by non-practising entities. The idea behind AST is simple: its members each contribute to the operating expense of the trust, which hold funds in escrow for the purchase of patents. Each member's escrow funds are used for the purchase of only those patents in which they are interested. Those members involved in the purchase are then licensed to use the patents, which are eventually sold or donated (a "catch and release" strategy. AST's 29 members, which span three continents, include ARM, Avaya, Ford, Google, Honda, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Philips and Sony.


* Spherix Inc., a company that describes itself as being "committed to advancing innovation by active participation in all areas of the patent market". Through its January 2014 acquisition of over a hundred patents from Rockstar Consortium Inc and its earlier acquisition of several hundred patents issued to Harris Corporation, Spherix has sought to expand its activities in wireless communications and telecommunication sectors.

* Practice Insight Pty Ltd.  a company that, in addition to holding some patents of its own offers a variety of services to the patent sector which you can check out from its website here.
Aistemos gives ORoPO -- which is voluntary, open and non-profit -- its fullest support and is delighted to see it beginning to grow. 

If you can't see why it's important to support ORoPO, take just a couple of minutes to read "Who Owns the World's Patents? Why patent ownership data is a problem worth solving" which points out that, thanks to translation issues and a lack of centralised control of corporate identifiers, a remarkable 25% of patent ownership records can be found to contain one or more inaccuracy.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

August's Aistemos posts: a handy summary

In case you missed our online activity over the summer months, here's a list of Aistemos blogposts posted during August, together with a short synopsis.  Each blogpost comes with a moderated comment facility, so please feel welcome to respond to anything you read, whether you disagree with it, wish to amplify or clarify its points, or merely provide further links to relevant material.

To check each post out, just click the title:
What can we learn from the fact that, while insurance companies are so eager to market anti-troll patent insurance policies, they don't seem have any packages for sale to non-practising entities?

Cooperation between Japan and Singapore in examining patents mentions private sector involvement, but doesn't go into specifics. Is there scope for greater private sector involvement -- and whatever happened to the Peer to Patent initiative, which did seek third party input?

Aistemos CEO Nigel Swycher paints a picture of a world that in some respects still resembles our own, but in which its data-driven functionality is quite different.

We look at a new title that suggests that, rather than IP law being a drag on direct foreign investment in patents and other IP rights, it's international investment law that slows things down.

As Nokia shifts its business profile, the logic of its commercial plans can be measured against competing IP portfolios in its key markets, as a Cipher snapshot reveals.

"Innovation to Investment – How to capitalise on your IP" is an attractive seminar coming up on 25 September. Great way to start the weekend ...

Building on an earlier blogpost on the value of lapsing IP registrations and applications, this post observes the strategic power wielded by the owner of even an invalidated design patent.

The space in the social media which Aistemos shares with many other business-to-business enterprises is a space that is cluttered with tweets, blogposts, newsletters and other media extolling the virtues of lists of things that IP-oriented SMEs should (or should not) do. Some are useful; others are not.

The International Patent Classification system has been with us so long that it's easy to forget much we rely on it when looking at patents within different technological sectors.

The US-based Data Transparency Coalition is not specifically IP-focused, yet its prescription for a better information environment makes sense for an IP community that depends so much on raw data provided by the public sector.

Are lapsed patents and patent applications a useless and wasteful by-product of the intellectual property system, or are they an under-rated and misunderstood asset class?

This new book covers, among other things, FRAND licensing, standardisation and standard-essential patents, open innovation and a positive role for the public domain.

As competition stiffens in the information-bearing wearables sector, this blogpost looks at market share and fluctuations in stock value, asking whether a Cipher snapshot of patent holdings might not provide a better guide to share value.


The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the source of much information regarding the scale and nature of use of its registered rights systems. But how big is the gap between WIPO's data and the analytics that give them meaning?
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