The 2017 IP Dealmakers was held in NYC at the Apella on November 15 – 17, and proved to be an exciting, sold-out event, as in the past 4 years. The forum was attended by monetization specialists, financing experts, corporate executives, patent practitioners, Chinese patent specialists and even two retired judges, a former director of the USPTO and representatives from the Federal Trade Commission and US Senate.
The mood was upbeat and participants reported on the various ways they are marching forward in spite of the impediments to monetization in the US. As reported in the IP Market Roundup session, the IPR process is hindering monetization although less than 50% IPRs are currently actually instituted. Monetization outside the US, particularly in China and Europe, was reported to be a key part of achieving success. The “Is Pure Patent Licensing Dead” panel reported that although margins have decreased, portfolios with good research behind them get traction. Similarly, a panel on patent quality reported that the PTAB appears to be overly zealous in invalidating patents, and that the cost of rejecting a good idea to the US system needs to be considered.
With respect to Europe and China, the IP Monetization Strategy in Europe and Successful IP Dealmaking in China panels certainly indicated the increased levels of IP monetization activity in both of those geographic areas. The more “predictable” systems in Europe are comforting, although adoption of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is facing difficulties due to Brexit turmoil. China is clearly accessible to foreign entities, including Non Practicing Entities (NPEs), due to their very pro-patent system, although several participants noted that one had to “do their homework” before embarking on patent monetization there.
Monetization in the 5G space, as reported on by a panel of industry experts, is alive and well, with issues on Standards Essential Patents (SEPs) and Fair, Reasonable and Non Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing, and IEEE policies all impacting the upcoming scramble for 5G licensing revenue.
A set of panels including Examining Financial Risk & ROI Across IP Deal Structures, Corporate Perspective on IP Finance, and Getting Good Deals Done: Inside the Dealroom looked at getting financial backing for monetization efforts, as well as how deals are actually getting closed. Not surprisingly, the panels indicated that IP investors are looking for venture capital type returns, and although new money is coming into the field, investors are very particular. Speakers reported that with the right portfolios – which need not be large – deals are getting done. Corporate buyers are expectedly bullish, using the downturn as a patent buying opportunity.