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Posts Tagged: "patent license"

Standard Essential Patents: The Myths and Realities of Standard Implementation

Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) are patents that are unavoidable for the implementation of a standardized technology. They represent core, pioneering innovation that entire industries will build upon. These patents protect innovation that has taken extraordinary effort to achieve. Standard Development Organizations (SDOs) exist as a mechanism for industry innovators to work together to collectively identify and select the best and most promising innovations that will become the foundation for the entire industry to build upon for years to come. Those contributing patented technologies to the development of a standard are asked to provide a FRAND (which stands for Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) assurance, in essence committing to providing access to patents that are or may become essential to the implementation of the standard.

Proceed with Caution When Acquiring a Licensor’s Patents

All too often, the prospective licensee/purported infringer usually doesn’t begin its efforts to acquire the patent(s) until after making disparaging statements about them during negotiations.  As an example, consider the time line discussed in the case of Gust, Inc. v. Alphacap Ventures, LLC, No. 2017-2414 (Fed. Cir. September 28, 2018) in which Alphacap Ventures, the purported infringer, demanded re-assignment of the patent owner’s patents as part of a settlement offer, but only after arguing for the invalidity of such patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101… While disparaging the patents question might serve a useful purpose in reducing their value, such disparaging statements will likely haunt the new owner during subsequent assertion assuming the new owner conceals such statements because of their potentially harmful nature. 

Contracts 101: Covenants, Representations and Warranties in IP License Agreements

It continually amazes me that many business folks who negotiate tons of IP license agreements, fail to understand the difference between covenants, representations, and warranties that are “standard” in many such agreements.  Well, that is not too surprising.  What is very surprising, however, is that many of their lawyers fail to appreciate the differences as well!  Many think the terms are synonymous and thus use them interchangeably. They are not.  So, for those of you tired of faking the funk, here is some (either fresh or refresher) Contracts 101!

iPEL Responds to Skeptics by Expanding Free Licensing Program

What if those who own large patent portfolios decided to actually help start-ups by opening up their patent portfolios to those start-ups rather than have those companies operate without a net and worrying about what has become an omnipresent threat of patent litigation? After all, a patent owner with a well formulated licensing program is not one who is interested in going after cash starved start-up companies anyway.

TiVo Files Patent Lawsuits against Comcast, Only Major U.S. Pay-TV Provider Without a TiVo Patent License

TiVo files patent lawsuits, the latest steps TiVo has taken in the hopes of resolving the renewal of a long-term licensing agreement that TiVo has already has already finalized with other major pay-television providers in the United States… TiVo’s recent litigation campaign against Comcast stems back to an unresolved licensing agreement that expired in April 2016 and which TiVo has attempted to renew with the major American pay-TV provider. Rovi first signed licensing agreements with the top pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast, Dish Network, DirecTV and Time Warner, back in 2003 and 2004 with each deal lasting for a period of 12 years. In 2015 and 2016, around the same time that Rovi acquired TiVo for about $1.1 billion, the company began proactively engaging in licensing talks, again striking long-term deals like 10-year agreements with both AT&T and Dish. Of the top 10 pay-TV providers in the United States, Comcast is the last holdout who has not signed a licensing deal with TiVo.

Billions of Dollars at Risk: How to Manage Patent Licensing Across Entire Industries. A Case Study

When managing many of cross-licensing negotiations it can be hard to prioritize your activities. In a recent case, the client experienced this very thing and felt they would benefit from a clear overview of their efforts… Determining the risk potential from a given licensor required us to look at several variables. Steps 1-4 of Figure 2 focus on assessing the strength of the infringement case presented by the opposing company. Finally, in step 5, we estimate the impact of that case on our client’s revenues based on the number of evidence of use (EOU) materials still in the case. Based on these assumptions, we calculate the total potential risk to our client.

AUTM Licensing Survey: Ominous trend likely attributable to eroding patent rights

Concerns about the ability of academic institutions to keep contributing to the U.S. innovation economy go well beyond federal funding stagnation according to the recent AUTM survey. In an executive summary section entitled The Perils of Eroding Patent Rights, AUTM notes that a slight decrease in options and exclusive license agreements compared to the number of non-exclusive license agreements could be due to fears that licensing companies have over protecting the intellectual property under the current iteration of the U.S. patent system. In 2016, option agreements were down year-over-year by 7 percent while exclusive licenses dropped 2.1 percent. Non-exclusive license totals, however, rose by 2.1 percent to 4,201 such license agreements in 2016. A sharp increase in startups ceasing business activity, up 37.4 percent to a total of 331 such startups, is another “ominous trend” which AUTM notes is likely attributable to eroding patent rights.

An Interesting Year on the Horizon: What to Watch in 2018

The issues I will be watching in 2018 other than Oil States are as follows: (1) What does the new Director of the USPTO do with respect to reforming the PTAB? (2) Will the USPTO adopt a code of judicial ethics for PTAB judges? (3) Will the U.S. drop out of the top 10 countries for patent protection in the annual U.S. Chamber IP Index? (4) How will the Federal Circuit resolve Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity and the assertion of sovereign immunity by Indian Tribes? (5) Will the Federal Circuit continue its unprecedented disposition of cases without an opinion by relying on Rule 36 summary affirmance? (6) Will Conservative groups become even more vocal advocates of a strong patent system?

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Cross-Licensing Your Technology Patents

A cross-licensing patent agreement is a contract between at least two parties that grants mutual rights to both parties’ intellectual property. The agreement may be a private one between two specific companies or a small consortium of companies. Or it may be a public agreement such as a patent pool, in which IP management is shared amongst a relatively large group of patent holders who share patents. Patent pools are typically industry-based, and companies active in the sector are free to join the pool.

Mitigating Patent Assertion Risk: Alternative Licensing Programs

Whether you are concerned with open source licensing, non-practicing entities, or general risk mitigation relating to patent assertion, this webinar will provide an overview on the innovative, alternative licensing programs put in place by the Open Invention Network, Allied Security Trust, LOT Network, and RPX.

The New Era of Antitrust Law and Policy in Standards: Embracing Evidence Based Policy-making

On November 10, 2017, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) new top antitrust enforcer, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Makan Delrahim, delivered a powerful speech on antitrust law and policy enforcement towards intellectual property rights (IPRs). Former USPTO Director David Kappos described it as “the most important DOJ antitrust speech on IP during my decades practicing law”. … The speech clarifies that the new AAG views “any policy proposals with one-sided focus on hold-up with great skepticism because they pose a serious threat on the innovating process,” and submits that antitrust law should not be misused to police the private commitments such as FRAND that IP holders make to SSOs. In this, the speech agrees with the view shared by several scholars that FRAND commitments are contracts and a potential breach of those commitments may not be best suited under the purview of antitrust law and that “there are perfectly adequate and more appropriate common law and statutory remedies available to the SSO or its members”.

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. 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.

Is the patent licensing market dead?

The clear consensus seems to be that the patent licensing market is not dead, but that the U.S. market is in decline and due to a weakening of patent rights capital will go elsewhere.

Patent-Based Financings: Unlocking Licensing Revenues While Mitigating IP Monetization Risks

Patent monetization has become nearly impossible for middle-market technology companies without engaging in some level of legal action. Management teams have consequently shied away from pursuing licensing opportunities, even when the revenue potential of a company’s intellectual property is compelling. While traditional debt and equity investors have an aversion to patent monetization stories, there are specialized investors willing to underwrite capital raises aimed at financing licensing revenue initiatives. By structuring these financings in a way that isolates monetization risk to the patent investor, companies can pursue licensing initiatives that have the potential to generate significant residual value for all stakeholders in the capital stack. In addition to capital, patent investors bring monetization expertise that can play a critical role in the success of a licensing revenue strategy… In many contexts, licensing revenues will only persist so long as the underlying patents remain valid. Increasingly, however, licensees and strategic third parties seek to invalidate patents in Inter Partes Review, rather than continue to pay or renew patent licenses. The uncertainty of future revenue streams further justifies financing structures that ameliorate such risk.

Questions Raised by the Lexmark Decision

Licensing a product instead of selling it may also be a tool for avoiding international patent exhaustion. It is common to distribute software via license, and this might avoid international exhaustion, although it will not work for all products. For example, licensing a drug makes little sense. However, re-importation of a drug would be regulated by the FDA, and the conditions and chain of control of drugs might mitigate some of the international exhaustion issues there. As such, many companies are evaluating the extent of the decision on international exhaustion and how it affects their industries. Since companies have thousands of contracts already in place and the parties will have to reevaluate their positions going forward, this is causing mass confusion and restructuring of contracts and relationships.