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12.19.17

French and Korean Patent Trolls

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) looks elsewhere for ‘action’

IAM THE VOICE OF PATENT TROLLS

Summary: Now that the United States is suppressing the rackets of patent trolls we are hearing more about patent trolls in other parts of the world

THIS morning we found IAM speaking about the French patent troll known as Technicolor. We wrote about it several times before, as did IAM (a proponent of such trolls).

Technicolor is failing as a whole (many layoffs) and is hoping to offload the trolling unit in order to extort/blackmail more companies such as Samsung (South Korea). As IAM put it today:

The discussions are at a sufficiently advanced stage that Technicolor has suspended all ongoing licence negotiations. That is why the French company had to tell investors now – its IP business is going to generate significantly less cash flow by year-end than expected. If all goes as planned, the new owner of Technicolor’s portfolio will be resuming talks with those prospective licencees after the deal closes sometime in 2018.

Samsung will not be among those prospective licencees, as Rose also announced a settlement of French and German litigation against the Korean smartphone maker. Technicolor will be keeping the royalty flow from that deal, Rose said, but it will provide an important data point in putting a price tag on the patent business as a whole.

So Samsung has already shelled out ‘protection’ money, though only after the troll sued in two European countries. Imagine how much worse it would be under UPC.

What can Korean firms do to protect themselves?

The national, government-backed patent troll of Korea, Intellectual Discovery (ID), goes the way of the dodo. It did not help protect firms such as LG and Samsung. It turned out to be a useless pile of patents. Yesterday IAM got excited by the prospect that trolls will be fed these patents:

A USPTO assignment recorded two weeks ago reveals the fund’s latest apparent patent sale. ID transferred a portfolio of patents related to audio coding and processing to a US entity called Unified Sound Systems Inc. The package includes 30 assets in all, counting eight US and three Chinese grants. Unified Sound is a recent creation with no patent history or associated names – its listed address is a residence in San Leandro, California. ID acquired the patents in 2015 from the tech transfer arm of Seoul’s Yonsei University.

The patent sale occurred around the same time that ID sold a patent portfolio covering camera lenses to Compact Lens Technologies LLC, which appears to be a subsidiary of Texas-based IP business IP Valuation Partners. It is not known whether the two October sales were cash only or privateering plays; but the latter is definitely part of the ID playbook, as exemplified by its monetisation agreement with DSS. That was the last deal done on former CEO Kwang-jun Kim’s watch; if these more recent transactions are structured similarly, it is a solid indication that ID doesn’t plan on litigating on its own behalf anytime soon.

So yes, they are feeding trolls now. IAM openly compares Korea’s Intellectual Discovery to Intellectual Ventures (which IAM loves). To quote:

Then again, ID’s current direction does not seem all that different from that of Intellectual Ventures. IV has stopped buying patents, and gone into selling mode. Many of the portfolios it has divested have been snapped up by NPEs and then litigated. As executives from IV have explained, licensing conditions are tough but there is demand for whole portfolios purchases. Moreover, operating companies may become more receptive to buying assets if they can see many of them are being sold off to NPEs who may later target them.

What a terrible thing. What’s worth noting here is that Korea and Europe now participate in a trend that’s dying in the US, namely patent trolling. Will China become the capital of patent trolls? Or can Battistelli beat China to it by destroying the EPO and erecting the trolls’ wet dream (UPC) instead? Many people suspect that Battistelli still wants to be the king of the trolls’ court (UPC). We recommend the three articles below.

Related/contextual:

  1. Battistelli’s Home Country, France (Where He is a Politician in Defiance of the Rules), is a Patent Troll
  2. French Giants Resort to Patent Trolling While Battistelli Attracts Patent Trolls to Europe
  3. The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing
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