Announced in a Google blog post on 27 April, the promotion opened a window of time, starting 8 May, whereby U.S. patent holders can put a price on their property, fill out a form, submit it to Google and see what happens. The submission window closes 27 May.
The promotion, which Google describes as an effort to keep patents out of the hands of trolls, may appeal to small inventors and failed startups looking to recoup their investment, says Christopher N. George, a patent attorney and partner at Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman, LLC in Chicago. However, Google is “not giving people a lot of time,” he says, noting that the due diligence to properly price a patent usually takes months. “It’s a small window in which to decide what they want to sell and what a fair price is.”
And that price tag is important, because unlike other patent deals, there will be no negotiation. Once the window closes, Google says it will take a month—until 26 June—to review the submissions and notify those sellers whose patents piqued its interest. Google then will take another two weeks (July 8) for further due diligence before deciding whether to buy. The entire process will be over when Google formally purchases the patents no later than 22 July.
The program is an interesting experiment launched at a time when the entire patent landscape is shifting, particularly for software patents, says George. Specifically, the America Invents Act made it easier to challenge patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and a Supreme Court decision last year set new standards for the patentability of software.
Google’s head of patent acquisitions, Kirk Daley, reportedly told a group at the spring meeting of the Licensing Executives Society last week that the promotion was getting “significant traction.” In tweets, attendee Matt Moyers, director of IP at Black Stone, reported that Daley said during a panel discussion that the program was getting submissions of patents with prices ranging from $1 to $3.5 billion, with 41 percent of the submissions under $100,000.
Freelance journalist Tam Harbert has covered technology and business for more than 20 years. Based in Washington, D.C., Harbert says her favorite type of article explains how public policy affects the technology business, or vice versa. She has launched, edited, and written for publications targeting engineers, IT managers, investors, and corporate executives. Harbert has won more than a dozen awards for her work, most recently two awards (2014) from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). She has also received the Jesse H. Neal Award for op-ed writing.