Got patents? Google may want them. The search engine giant is inviting patent holders to pitch their innovations for sale as part of its just-launched Patent Purchase Promotion, an experimental marketplace for patents.
Allen Lo, Deputy General Counsel for Patents at Google, explained the program in a blog post. He noted that patent owners sell patents for numerous reasons, including the need to raise money or because of changes in a company’s business direction.
“Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls,” Lo said. “Then bad things happen, like lawsuits, lots of wasted effort, and generally bad karma. Rarely does this provide any meaningful benefit to the original patent owner.”
Google’s Patent Portal
It’s against that backdrop that Google is launching what Lo called an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. Google is opening a portal for patent holders to tell the company about their patents -- and the prices at which they are willing to sell them -- from May 8 to May 22, 2015. Once the portal closes, Google will review the submissions and, if interested, make an offer to buy by June 26, 2015.
“By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly,” Lo said. “Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls.”
Lo was upfront about the fine print. He suggested patent holders digest the language before participating and encouraged them to speak with their attorneys. Interested patent holders can find that language on the Patent Purchase Promotion Web site, along with more information about the next steps if Google decides to buy a submitted patent.
“We’re always looking at ways that can help improve the patent landscape and make the patent system work better for everyone,” Lo said. “We ask everyone to remember that this program is an experiment -- think of it like a 20 percent project for Google’s patent lawyers -- but we hope that it proves useful and delivers great results to participants.”
A Really Brilliant Idea?
We asked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, for his take on the new initiative. He told us the Patent Purchase Promotion is an idea that could be really brilliant or really, really stupid. Of course, we won’t know which until we see the results.
“On the smart side it could give Google access to patents that impact companies they are litigating against in patent disputes, providing them with a far stronger defense,” Enderle said. “Google has been at a serious disadvantage against firms like Apple and Microsoft, which have massive, well-vetted patent portfolios. This could even those odds a great deal.”
Google might even get an interesting idea out of the program, but the company is already into so many things that the drive could become more of a problem than an asset, Enderle said. He also made room for the possibility that Google could discover a unique way to do something better it is already doing.
A Really Stupid Idea?
“On the stupid side it could make it appear Google is stealing patents if they don't buy some that relate to some product they are building now or in the future,” Enderle said. “Where before they could argue they were unaware of the patent the patent holder can now argue there is evidence they intentionally defrauded him or her with this effort.”
Because Google is focusing on so many other projects, Enderle said the probability that the idea will be "stupid" massively overwhelms the likely benefits. In other words, the risk of this gutsy move is high. From his perspective, Google could greatly improve its odds with analytics that could point to the risks as well as the rewards more effectively.
“I'm not convinced the technology is where it needs to be yet to adequately mitigate the risk but we are getting close and this should drive development in the area of patent analysis which could result in a rather interesting long-term service," he concluded.
Posted: 2015-04-28 @ 5:11am PT
My karma tells me this is what patent developers are waiting for -- my karma also tells me that what I have been using for 8 years can finally be developed. Thanks Google.
Posted: 2015-04-27 @ 3:21pm PT
It's amazing.. And not stupid at all... actually genius and appropriate given all the legal battles taking place based on patents and their misuses.