IP Industry: we start here

In 2007, we set out to change the world of intellectual property, and how innovation and ideas were exchanged among IP owners and those that desired IP. We knew there were significant headwinds with an entrenched, decades-old ecosystem of long held beliefs about the “way things ought to be done” and who were we to come along and try to change things.

None of this did anything to deter us; it drove us even harder. Not to gloat or brag, but many of the world’s LARGEST IP Owners and Transactors are now our customers- more on that in later posts.  They see the same future.

IP Attorneys said we were wrong; IP Brokers said we were crazy; IP Researchers said we didn’t have enough expertise; investors didn’t yet understand the vastness of the opportunity.

It is all clear why, now – fear.

In 2008, we shipped our first market facing licensing solution creatively called the Fluid Licensing System. It centered on making the process of transacting IP deals more efficient for large corporations. Unfortunately, we made a glaring error: we assumed our target customers – F500/G2000 – actually had plenty of IP deals to do, and that they were suffering only from internal roadblocks and undocumented processes to close those deals.

The miss for us was on the volume of deals these companies were doing annually. Not nearly enough. They were able to slog through the few IP deals they were able to transact each year and although the process wasn’t friendly they got some things done.  But inventory of more IP kept piling up.

On the flip side we learned the IP acquirers were struggling too only for another reason: they didn’t know who had or was willing to sell or license their patents. Even if the acquirers did know who owned IP they were interested in they had no good idea how to approach the likes of an IBM, Google, Alcatel-Lucent among other large IP owners. There was no easy to identify “front doors” into these corporations.

So entered the dreaded NPE / PAE / Patent Troll to provide much needed liquidity in an intransigent industry. We’ll save that conversation for another post but “Spoiler Alert” we applaud Patent Trolls (even though we don’t necessary like them.)

Where companies were starving was on deal opportunities. Sellers had plenty of “inventory” in patents, IP, innovation they were willing to license out but no efficient means to quickly assess their inventory, research and source buyers, execute consistent outreach, follow-up and close the deals.

Buyers had and have an endless desire to acquire for strategic growth, freedom to operate and the dreaded defensive reasons, but it was more efficient for them to just put their heads down and go to market hoping nothing negative would hinder their businesses.

Since 2008 we have enhanced or delivered new tools that when eventually strung together will provide the industry with an end-to-end solution we kindly refer to as the Innovation Supply Chain:

  • FLS which we licensed into the IPZone effort;
  • Enlyton – a novel semantic search solution that is brilliant in dense IP related documents. It has been licensed into two of the top IP tools providers
  • IPWire – the only IP deal focused news site with over 4,000 IP transactions reported,
  • idealAsset – the “match.com for IP”. idealAsset automatically matches buyer and sellers of brilliant IP globally, cutting IP transaction time 60-80%.

This is where we see things going to provide an end-to-end, efficient work environment for IP owners and those interested in acquiring IP can subscribe to and execute IP transactions.

So after 8 years of learning, failing and providing real economic impact to our customers, we believe we’ve got a point of view (or two) on the IP industry.

We see tons happening in IP legislation and we’ll get into that too, but know we are for free markets solving most of this debate and allowing Legislatures to come along and put up the guardrails.

To rely on courts, Congress, lawyers to determine marketplace agendas is absurd; so we will just ask these two questions: “Where are all the Innovators and Entrepreneurs in the IP industry?” And, “With more potential at stake, trillions according to some, why are there not 50 or 100 new start-ups chasing this industry like, say, wearables or drones?”

We will expand our scope here on IPWire to explore how we are solving real customer pain in pursuit of IP Commercialization. Billions are at stake.

Join us for the journey, stay for the discussions, weigh-in on the debates.

Tom Hochstatter

Managing Editor,

IPWire

Twitter: @ipwire

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