Bullish or Bearish on the 2018 Patent Market?

Are you bullish or bearish on the 2018 patent market? That is the question I asked a panel of experts recently. Each of the experts surveyed will participate in IP Dealmakers 2017, will take place from November 15-17, 2017, in New York City.

For the most part, those industry insiders who responded are bullish, although some are cautiously bullish. As you will read below, there seems to be a consensus that activity will be up in terms of deals in 2018, but relief from the downward pressure on prices experienced over the last several years likely will not be forthcoming in 2018.


Jaime Siegel
CEO, Cerebral Assets LLC
National Trustee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum

I am bullish on 2018. There is no doubt that the prices of US patent assets are down over the past few years. This is a result of legislative attacks on the sanctity of the currency of innovation – patents. However, it also seems to me that we are headed up from the basement that was 2016-2017. The upcoming Oil States case will have the US Supreme Court considering an issue that could be disruptive to the world of IPRs and the damage to IP value that they have left in their wake. Further, the market and value of foreign assets continues to increase as recognition spreads that there are alternatives to the US patent protection system.

Having practiced for over 25 years, including 16 at Sony, Jaime Siegel is now CEO of Cerebral Assets, LLC, an IP Business Advisory and Global Director of Licensing for the Open Invention Network, one of his clients. Jaime is also the CEO of FlipTix LLC, an early stage tech start-up in the event space, as well as an Adjunct Professor at the UC Irvine School of Law, where he teaches the business of patent licensing and patent litigation.


Erich SpangenbergErich Spangenberg
Managing Director, SK14 Advisors

For most, 2018 will be a good time to reassess and simply survive—the boom times are not coming back in 2018. It is not the time to deploy significant resources on the same solutions and hope for better results.

Erich Spangenberg is currently Managing Director of SK14 Advisors. Mr. Spangenberg was also the founder and former CEO of IP Navigation Group, and the founder and former CEO of nXn Partners. Mr. Spangenberg was previously a partner at the prestigious law firm, Jones Day, as well as an investment banking executive at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.


Michael Gulliford
Soryn IP Group

I am cautiously bullish about the patent market in 2018 because I predict that those in power will finally focus on two important issues: jobs and China. First, lets talk about jobs. If we continue to undermine the U.S. patent system, investment in all but the software industry – where let’s face it data and users mean a lot more than IP – is going to go elsewhere. Over time, it will not be surprising to see layoffs in companies that can’t protect their revenue generating products, or a lack of investment in new life sciences or “hard technology” companies. Investors with an appetite for longer term investment horizons just won’t be able to get comfortable with the proposition that patents can provide their investments in new technologies with an opportunity to succeed. Either way you cut it, the result is not good for jobs. Second, lets talk about China. China is doing the exact opposite of the United States when it comes to patents. It is investing heavily in patents, and its patent system and is creating a serious venue for patent holders to enforce their rights. In fact, in many respects, China now takes patent protection more seriously than the United States. I think the implications of this, as well as the serious inability of American companies to protect their technologies at home, particularly in light of foreign competition, is going to impact Congressional thinking on patent issues for the better.

Michael Gulliford is the Founder and a Managing Principal of Soryn IP Group, a patent advisory and litigation finance firm headquartered in New York City. Michael has repeatedly been named to the list of the Leading IP Strategists in the World, and is regularly asked to speak and publish on the latest patent developments.


Kimberly Cauthorn
Global Intellectual Property Leader, Tech Media & Telecom
Willis Towers Watson

Bullish in terms of activity, but prices are not likely to increase. There remain too many uncertainties such as cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the America Invents Act inter partes review process and the case in Germany regarding the Unified Patent Court. There also are potential technological disruptions such as artificial intelligence that have yet to play out. And, it is challenging to apply accepted valuation methodologies to evolving revenue models.

Kim Cauthorn is the Global Intellectual Property Leader, Tech Media & Telecom at Willis Towers Watson. Kim leads the team responsible for assisting clients with intellectual property and broader intangible asset risk issues and developing intellectual property risk quantification tools and risk transfer vehicles.


Ian McClureIan McClure
Director, Office of Technology Commercialization
University of Kentucky

Bullish. Innovation is a buoyant industry in the US, and it is finding its voice. The US investment leakage coupled with shareholder activism is finally reaching board level and congress’ attention. I believe we will see accountability in innovation – and in the patent market – soon.

Ian McClure joined the Office of Technology Commercialization as its Director in 2016. Ian began his career as a Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and Intellectual Property (IP) transactions attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP in Louisville. Most recently, Ian was Vice President of IP Strategy for Black Stone IP, an investment bank headquartered in San Francisco focused on IP-rich M&A, IP deals and technology-driven transactions.


Michael ShoreMichael Shore
Partner, Shore Chan DePumpo LLP

I’m very bullish on 2018. We have multiple sovereign clients (Native American Tribes, sovereign historically black universities, foreign sovereign nations, etc.) who are willing to partner with patent holders to deposit patents in sovereign “banks” either to simply shield them from IPRs or enforce them without dealing with litigation motivated IPRs and district court stays.

Michael W. Shore practices in the areas of intellectual property commercialization, business litigation, and other select litigation matters. His intellectual property practice is multifaceted, aiding clients in commercializing their patent and copyright portfolios through strategic development, licensing and litigation.


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Join the Discussion

4 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Ternary]
    November 6, 2017 12:16 pm

    The current reality is that the large software/technology companies have found effective ways to fend off existential threats from small and start-up companies. Right now it is all a matter of leveraging size and power. Acquiescence with the current status of our patent system or even active undermining of it has been part of the industry’s “innovation” policy. It all looks like a stagnant market, dominated by interests of large companies and institutions.

    It is absolutely not in the interest of established tech companies to change the current situation, as the anti-patent approach works out very well for them. I believe the patent market will remain depressed and even survival, as mentioned by Erich Spangenberg, is still a too optimistic view of the situation in view of cost to keep applications/patents alive.

    Many patent applications on novel ‘software’ developments are running into the buzz saw of Alice. Even if a patent is obtained, potential invalidation in Court remains a serious risk. Combined with PTAB/CAFC execution of IPRs there is no trust in the future value of a patent. Unless a dramatic change takes place, I see no improvement of this market and nothing in the comments of the contributors is convincing enough to change my opinion.

  • [Avatar for OilStatesFTW]
    November 6, 2017 12:08 pm

    @Valuationguy: Oil States will probably not come out until the end of the SCOTUS term, in June.

  • [Avatar for Valuationguy]
    November 6, 2017 09:31 am

    Personally…I’m VERY bullish on the patent sector come March 2018….when I expect the Oil States SCOTUS decision to eviscerate the PTAB….and signal the coming small (several year) hiatus in the ADMIN driven state.

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    November 5, 2017 10:31 am

    Michael Shore
    Partner, Shore Chan DePumpo LLP
    “I’m very bullish on 2018. We have multiple sovereign clients (Native American Tribes, sovereign historically black universities, foreign sovereign nations, etc.) who are willing to partner with patent holders…”

    Just pause for a second and think about this horrible state of affairs

    If poor immigrant Tesla had to partner with Native American Tribes to make his patents “legitimate” we would still be using DC current for our electric appliances today…

    what a sad place to be an inventor – USA circa 2017-2018
    Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves