March 16, 2006 Many of the things the world’s 6.5 billion inhabitants do every day are done in a certain manner because they’ve always been done that way. In a world that is rapidly changing though, many of the traditional ways are under threat, with the most recent being the way that IP is bought and sold. Chicago-based merchant bank Ocean Tomo is hosting the world's first, live multi-lot technology patent auction at The Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco on April 6, 2006. While some would suggest auctions are the absolute model of economic efficiency, uniting buyers and sellers at just the right price to their mutual benefit, there are those who argue that there is a winner's curse of ALWAYS paying too much at an auction, based on the fact that there will almost always be one or more persons who add irrationality to the model and they will make the winning bid too high. If all bidders were truly rational, the "winner" would not overpay, but they wouldn't win many auctions either. Statistics also suggest that the bigger the universe of bidders, the more overrepresented the true worth will be. Which means that the auction might just be a better way of selling IP. The catalogue is available here, though you'll need to pony up US$500 for a look at the details.
The 400 patents to go under the hammer that day were screened from more than 1200 patents submitted and include 68 lots from such household names as Ford, Motorola, AT&T, Kimberley Clarke and American Express.
The categories span 14 different technologies including advanced chemical, industrial , financial services, telecom, automotive technologies such as a four-wheel steering system developed by Ford and identification technologies such as barcodes and RFID.
Ocean Tomo announced today the inclusion of Patent Lot 50 which pertains to different cellular technologies. The fifteen patents and five pending applications for sale in The Ocean Tomo Spring 2006 Live Patent Auction relate to cellular telephone instruments, systems and processes. Specific claimed features of the portfolio include voice actuated instruments, keyless instruments, automated instrument activation and programming, prepaid and monitored cell operation, out-call only operation, voice data bank access, using cellular instruments for financial transactions, voice actuated instruments to transmit speech or DTMF and controlled use of cellular instruments.
Potential buyers of this particular lot of patents include wireless handset manufacturers and other mobile device companies, interactive voice development companies, prepaid wireless companies, developers of portable power solutions for mobile devices, and cellular carriers.
The patents were prosecuted by the same team that prosecuted the well- known Katz patents which have accounted for over US$800M in gross revenue. Several of the patents in Lot 50 have received an A+ Rating from Ocean Tomo's PatentRatings software platform.
Whether the auction process is a better way for buying and/or selling IP is yet to be proven, but one thing is for certain - the universe of people who will be watching on April 5 &6 will be far greater than any other sale methodology. Which augers well for the prices.