International patent brokerage and Intellectual Property advisory firm Tangible IP is poised to announce that it has successfully brokered the sale of a patent portfolio of close to 150 patent assets previously owned by French Sovereign Patent fund (SPF) France Brevets. Financial details of the agreement will not be disclosed. A quick search on the U.S. patent database indicates that the buyer of these patent assets is Didi Chuxing, Uber’s major competitor in Chinese market.
In December 2017, Didi Chuxing obtained new financing from SoftBank Group totaling more than $4 billion, which pushes Didi’s valuation to approximately $56 billion with cash reserves of approximately $12 billion. According to Didi, the funds will be used “to support AI capacity-building, international expansion, and new business initiatives, including the development of new energy vehicle service networks.” Didi and Softbank also recently announced a partnership to provide platform services for the taxi industry. DiDi and SoftBank plan to begin trial services in Japan later this year.
The porfolio acquired by Didi Chuxing from France Brevets includes assets relating to the automotive and self-driving space, as well as assets relating to unmanned vehicles. The portfolio had been originally developed by a French defense contractor Thales, and contained assets covering Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technologies, a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distance, RADAR, heads-up display (HUD) and other detection related technologies.
It would seem that the acquisition of this patent portfolio delivers on Didi’s commitment to invest in artificial intelligence capacity.
“The Thales portfolio is of very high quality and directly applicable to the emerging autonomous vehicles industry,” said Louis Carbonneau, founder & CEO of Tangible IP and one of the top IP strategists in the world. “Developed with aerospace in mind, it will now get a second life in the automotive space through its new owner.”
“Historically, we have been focused on acquiring patents ourselves and monetizing them primarily via our licensing programs”, said Yann Dietrich, Senior Vice President Licensing and Director of Strategy & Development at France Brevets. “As our investment strategy evolved, and time came to start divesting some of our own portfolios, we looked around for a reputable firm to represent us and decided to go with Tangible IP given their great track record and wide industry recognition.”
“It has been an honor to assist France Brevets in this large transaction”, said Carbonneau. “As one of the more responsible patent licensing entities in the market, they are able to recognize that there are some patents that are better suited to finding a good home with an operating company who can productize them, than generating licensing revenues through licensing activities.”