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Intellectual Property Law Alert: Google (may) Want To Buy Your Patents

April 30, 2015

Google has been a vocal critic of patent trolls and has spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to reform the patent laws to protect against what it sees as a threat to innovation. On Monday, April 27, 2015, Google announced a new initiative in its effort at reform, dubbed the Google "Patent Purchase Promotion." Under this program, Google intends to create a streamlined marketplace for patents. Google is attempting to prevent patents from landing in the hands of trolls who could in turn assert those patents against market participants. Google's stated that one of its goals is to "remove friction from the patent market and improve the landscape."

The program is simple.  From May 8th  until May 22nd, patent owners can make an offer to sell their patent(s) to Google at a price set by the patent owner. Google will either accept or reject the offer during a review period that will follow the two (2) week submission period. Importantly, patent owners who sell their patent to Google can expect to get a "license back" as part of the purchase-sale agreement so the patent owner can continue to practice the patented invention if they wish.

Google has not indicated any specific limitations on the field of art from which the patents must arise. Considering that the United State Patent and Trademark Office granted over 300,000 patents in 2014 alone, we expect that Google is anticipating the purchase of a fairly large number of patents to measurably "improve the landscape." Thus, Google's experiment may be a unique opportunity for patent owners, under the right circumstances, to monetize certain patents in their portfolio by selling them to Google.

To be sure, there will be a "patent purchase agreement" that will need to be executed by the Patent Owner with Google, and therefore, Carmody is not advocating that this Patent Purchase Promotion is advantageous (or even applicable) to everyone.  However, we would be happy to discuss the pros/cons, advantages and possible disadvantages with you.  Therefore, for more information on the program, simply Google, "Google Patent Purchase Promotion," or reach out to Arthur Schaier at (203) 575-2629 or aschaier@carmodylaw.com, the head of Carmody's Intellectual Property Group.