Big Corporate Brands Join Forces on Patent Purchase Program

Have a patent that you don’t want anymore? Starting this week, you can sell it to a group of industry giants.

A group of corporations that include, Ford, Cisco, Facebook, and IBM are looking to buy patents. As a result, they have developed a program called IP3 (Industry Patent Purchase Program) to facilitate the sale of patents from their owners.

Patent owners can offer them up through a special portal that will be open from May 25 to June 8, and if a firm is interested, the owner will receive a take-it-or-leave-it offer by the end of July.

According to Fortune, the new program is being run by a nonprofit industry group called the Allied Security Trust (AST). It amounts to a broad expansion of a similar program tried last year by Google, where the firm purchased 28 percent of the patents offered up, and individual sales ranged from $3,000 to $250,000, with an average purchase price of $48,000.

What kind of implications could this have? For one, it could help the consortium of firms buying the patents insulate themselves from non-practicing entities (NPEs), otherwise known as “patent trolls,” who acquire patents solely to extract payments from companies that could potentially infringe on them.  While moves like this won’t eliminate the NPE problem, they could provide an alternative outlet for speculative IP that won’t be used as a blunt instrument in litigation.

But on a broader scale, this mimics the “collabovation” idea we talked about in this year’s State of Innovation report. In the new global community, innovation is spurred not just by one man in a garage somewhere, or one scientist in a lab, or one academic in a library. Instead, it’s a combination of multiple sources from all over the world, working in an “open innovation” model that takes an idea, tweaks it, and perfects it to arrive at the best result for mankind.

Perhaps, the IP3 may be the very next step in this evolution of innovation.