In his recent op-ed for Wired, Raymond Hegarty, vice president of global licensing for Intellectual Ventures in Europe, argues the importance of patent aggregators — “trolls,” as many in the IP world have disdainfully deemed them.
Hegarty looks at today’s smartphone to illustrate his point: part high-definition camera, part gaming platform, part GPS device — the list goes on. “Just a few years ago,” he notes, “that combination would have cost thousands of dollars” with each component protected by hundreds — even thousands — of “cross-licensed, exchanged, and litigated patents.”
Hegarty’s point: Our tech-based products are becoming more and more complex, and with each product containing “a long tail of relevant technologies” within it, the task of doling out credit (and reward) to the individual inventors and developers proves rather sticky. “This is where patent aggregators come into play,” he says.
Aggregators like IV closely scan the issued patents and provide access to the “long tail” of individual technologies, he argues. This way the credit and reward can make its way to even the smallest inventors, who, among the hundreds of other inventors attached to a single device, are often ignored by product companies.
Hegarty also stresses the patent aggregator’s objectivity and inclusiveness, as opposed to product companies whose lead the market through patent monopolization. “But aggregators,” he asserts, “are incentivized to package and license patents as broadly as possible.” And if patents are available to all companies, big and small, those companies can compete through innovation, rather than exclusion.
Patent aggregators are also good indicators of quality, Hegarty says; his own firm purchases only 15% of the tens of thousands of patents reviewed. “Patent aggregators provide an economically feasible system for compensating the inventors in the long tail,” he concludes. “Ultimately the users of those products — you — are the ones who benefit.”
Posted January 16th, 2013 under Tech Transfer