Google Bought 28% of the Patents It Liked During Its Patent Purchase Experiment

It paid $250,000 for one but declined a $3.5 billion offer

1 min read
Google Bought 28% of the Patents It Liked During Its Patent Purchase Experiment
Illustration: Randi Klett; Images: Google and iStockphoto

Google received “thousands” of submissions to its experimental Patent Purchase Promotion, which launched in April and closed last week. Out of that rather vague number, the company bought 28 percent of the patents it deemed were “relevant” to its business, according to Kurt Brasch, senior product licensing manager.

The program, which offered a chance for anybody to sell patents to Google at a price set by the patent holder, was an experiment in keeping patents out of the hands of trolls.

The number of submissions was “well beyond what we expected,” says Brasch. “We were very, very happy with the overall program.”

Some other stats Google shared:

  • The median price of submissions was about $150,000.
  • There were several submissions priced at more than $1 billion, including one for $3.5 billion
  • One half of the submissions came in at under $100,000
  • The lowest price Google paid for a patent was $3,000; the highest was $250,000
  • 25 percent of all submissions came from individual inventors, the rest from operating companies
  • Of the 75 percent from operating companies, about a third were handled by brokers

Google was surprised at the big response from both individual inventors and brokers. It also received many inquiries from operating companies who wanted to know how the program was progressing.

“Clearly there is interest in what we learned,” says Brasch, lessons that the company intends to share after it has a chance to more closely analyze the data. 

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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