Uber, Others Set August for Group Defensive Patent Buy

By Malathi Nayak       Bloomberg BNA


Non-profit group Allied Security Trust and members, including Uber Technologies Inc., will hold another fixed price patent buy this summer, the group said May 1.

The Industry Patent Purchase Program (IP3) is run by Allied Security Trust, which buys patents to safeguard its members from infringement suits. It is the second iteration of the first IP3 program that was launched last year and saw Google, Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others join in to buy patents.

The program will begin accepting offers from patent owners and brokers during a two-month window starting Aug.1, the groups said in a statement. The last IP3 held last year facilitated 56 transactions covering 107 active patents.

The program continues to focus on “trying to get some good quality assets for our members and reduce the risk of those being a threat in the future,” CEO of Allied Security Trust Russell Binns told Bloomberg BNA.

IP3 was modeled on a 2015 patent buying program launched by Alphabet Inc’s Google. In both of those programs, patent owners were asked to offer patents at a take-it-or-leave-it fixed price with no negotiations. Like Allied Security Trust, the IP3 program resells all the patents it buys on the open market with a provision requiring free licenses for all its members.

This year, only Allied Security Trust members will be allowed to participate as buyers in the program, the group said in its statement. Last year was open to non-members. The group has 30 members, including Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor Co Ltd, IBM Corp, Microsoft, Oracle Corp, Royal Philips NV and Sony Corp. In 2016, 15 members and 6 non-members participated in the purchase program.

Set Patent Categories

This year, the program will be specifically looking for patents in five categories: wireless, video distribution, networking, communications and internet-connected devices, Binns said. In 2016, the program accepted offers from sellers across software, automotive, healthcare and financial services sectors.

After the submission deadline of Sept. 30, Allied Security Trust and its members will let sellers know if they want to make purchases by Nov. 21. After additional due diligence, the transactions are expected to be completed by early 2018, the statement said.

Allied Security Trust plans to roll out an IP3 program each year moving forward, Binns said. “The hope is that we will have different technologies each year.”

Patent Quality Versus Quantity

Last year, buyers contributed to the IP3 fund before seeing what sellers had offered for sale. In a significant change to the sale process, buyers this year will be able to take a peek at the assets before contributing to the program, Binns said.

“The more quality assets we get in, the more money our members will want to put towards acquiring those assets,” he said.

Ride-hailing company Uber, which will participate in IP3 2017, rolled out its own patent purchase program in April to boost its intellectual property portfolio. Taking a cue from Google and IP3’s past efforts, Uber said it will also have sellers offer patents at a fixed price to eliminate lengthy negotiations.

“Fixed price purchasing is a model that is becoming more attractive with the no haggling aspect of it and the quicker turnaround in time,” Binns said. “I think you’ll see more companies pursue aspects of this fixed price purchasing model going forward.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington atmnayak@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek atmwilczek@bna.com

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