Friday, May 15, 2015

Who Wins With Google's New Patent Marketplace?

There’s something off about Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion. Purchasing patents is not new. In fact, Google has a long history of buying patents. What’s new is the idea of a limited-time solicitation. To me, Google’s announcement evokes a stereotypical used-car ad—“Get a great deal on your patent, but you better hurry, because this offer won’t last!” And just as the car dealership continues to sell cars after the “big, blowout sale,” Google will continue to buy patents after the promotion ends.

During Google’s promotion period, sellers get one shot at naming their price for a single U.S. patent. No counter-offer. No negotiations. Although this greatly simplifies that patent purchase process, sellers may not receive top dollar for their patent, because the short length of the program makes it difficult for patent holders to shop around for competitive bids. Another gripe is Google’s motivation for this promotion. Google tells us that this program will “remove friction from the patent market” and “improve the landscape.”

But for whom—the public, startups, or Google? It’s true that the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging. But how does Google’s purchase of hundreds or potentially thousands of patents solve that problem?

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