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Ron Laurie

Ron Laurie has worked in Silicon Valley since before it had that name, initially as a missile systems engineer at Lockheed-Sunnyvale, and then as an intellectual property lawyer and patent strategist. In 2004 he launched Inflexion Point Strategy, the first IP investment bank. With offices in Silicon Valley, Taiwan and Singapore, Inflexion Point advises technology companies and institutional investors around the world in acquiring, divesting and investing in IP-rich companies, businesses units and technologies, and IP assets in the form of patent portfolios, exclusive field-of-use rights and related know-how. Inflexion Point’s mission is to extract the unrealized value of strategic IP by increasing corporate valuation in M&A transactions, by building a defensive shield against litigious competitors and by generating top-line revenue via creative exclusive field-of-use licensing programs.

Ron is also a director at Wi-LAN, Inc., one of the oldest and most successful publicly-traded patent licensing companies. He has been named as one of the World’s Leading IP Strategists by Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) Magazine and is on the advisory boards of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Licensing Executives Society, and the Certified Patent Valuation Analyst accreditation program.

Prior to launching Inflexion Point, Ron was a founding partner of Skadden Arps’ Silicon Valley office, where he chaired the firm’s IP Strategy and Transactions Practice Group for six years and led IP teams in some of the largest high-tech and life sciences M&A, spin-out and joint venture deals ever done, worth over $50 billion in the aggregate. He was also a founding partner of the Silicon Valley offices of Weil, Gotshal and Irell & Manella.

As a lawyer, Ron advised clients in the semiconductor, computer, software, communications, media and financial services industries on IP strategy — a subject he has taught at both Stanford and Boalt (UC Berkeley) law schools.

Ron was an IP litigator for ten years, handling high-visibility patent, copyright, trade secret and trademark infringement cases in federal and state courts, including representation of Hewlett-Packard in its successful defense of the ‘look and feel’ copyright infringement suit filed by Apple Computer against HP and Microsoft over the Macintosh graphical user interface.

Ron is a registered patent attorney, and a substantial part of his prior law practice involved strategic planning, competitive analysis and commercial exploitation of patents on leading-edge software-based technologies such as encryption, biometrics and internet telephony. He wrote the Priceline reverse-auction patent, which was the first Internet business method patent to attract national attention.

Ron has been an advisor to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the U.S. Copyright Office, the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, the National Research Council, the National Academy of Science and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). He is on the Executive Council of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and the editorial board of The Journal of Internet Law and co-edited a two-volume treatise titled International Intellectual Property.

Recent Articles by Ron Laurie

Recent 3M patents showcase innovative developments in nanomaterials, glass, dental devices

During 2014, 3M received 517 patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, putting it in 80th place among companies petitioning the USPTO for patents that year. The company has received 143 U.S. patents in the past three months, according to Innography’s patent portfolio analysis tools. The text cluster provided here details widespread R&D in optical film, electrical cable, abrasive particles and curable compositions.

AT&T’s merger with DirecTV leads to an increase in television service innovations

Prevention of the unauthorized use of television services is also reflected in U.S. Patent No. 9124933, entitled Method and System for Detecting Unauthorized Use of a Set Top Box Using Expected Terrestrial Signal Identification, originally a DirecTV patent which became AT&T’s property after its merger. It discloses a method of determining expected terrestrial signal identifiers for a billing address of a fixed user device at a head end, receiving a plurality of terrestrial signals identifying a respective source at the fixed user device, communicating the expected terrestrial signal identifiers to the fixed user device, storing those identifiers in the fixed user device’s memory, comparing stored identifiers to received identifiers and denying the fixed user device from accessing satellite signals in response to the comparison. This invention is intended to provide a mechanism to ensure that television subscribers are following access rules laid out by government regulations or contracted with content providers, like blackout restrictions.

Digital Single Market: EU-wide consultation on online platforms has launched

The Consultation is part of the Commission’s assessment of the role of online platforms, promised in its Communication on a Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe (DSM) dated 6 May 2015. The Consultation covers a range of topics, including several controversial issues concerning transparency of online platforms and the proper extent of the hosting defence under the E-Commerce Directive. Interested parties have until around the end of December 2015 to respond (the exact closing date has not yet been published).

Apple innovations in virtual music, seeks patent on fuel cell for portable computing device

The most intriguing patent application we’ve seen recently is Apple’s patent application titled ‘Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device.’ It would protect a fuel cell system for a portable computing device comprising a fuel cell stack converting fuel into electrical power, a fuel source for the fuel cell stack and an interface to the portable device which includes a power link providing power to the portable device and a bidirectional communication link providing communication between the portable device and a fuel cell stack’s controller which sends fuel state information to the portable device and receives fuel cell control information. This innovation seeks to incorporate fuel cell electricity generation tech into portable computing devices for which it’s difficult to provide cost-effective and portable fuel cell systems, as the patent application itself points out.