Things are looking up.
Spending 2 days with the IP and Investment leaders in NYC this week at the IP Dealmakers Forum, highlighted for me 3 key take-aways of IP licensing in today’s business environment: Optimism, Geography, Bargains.
Despite the doom and gloom the past two years, most of the discussion was centered around the discussion of a (slightly) improving marketplace – with even a flat marketplace being something to be happy with. Although nowhere near market highs of past years, BRG Capstone provided an interesting chart asking if a price rebound was a real indicator of a more optimistic market.
While this gives brokers and sellers something to be happy about, on a complimentary note, the pure licence based companies still are moving to hedge their bets by diversifying. Gene Quinn summarizes Edward Jung’s keynote, noting how diversification is helping offset some of the challenges of the past.
One interesting point I heard was Brian Hinman from Royal Philips, where he noted that even inside the Philips IP group they diversify as well via investments in startups and other portfolios:
But just because it’s looking up doesn’t mean it’s still easy. The one point mentioned several times is how for small investors, lenience entities, or single patent sales / enforcement, the market challenges still hasn’t changed for them.
2) Geography Perhaps part of the optimism is the shift to Europe and China to supplement the US. And while the US legal environment is smoothing out, it is still to unpredictable to make large IP investments and bank on a return. With a reduced time to decision, Germany seems to still be the venue of choice with the predictability of process trumping the potentially lower returns.
It was interesting to note that even in broad geographies like Europe, a focus on some specific countries still dominates like Germany. But to simply to consider German as your EU strategy – and to do so without a quality patent – isn’t enough the bigger global picture still needs considered.
Even within Asia Pacific there are countries of note, with South Korea and Japan leading the play, with Singapore looking to be the IP hub via government incentives.
In short it’s still a global business that needs managed with topics like tax structures, enforcement, bond requirements, and injunctions to consider:
Discussions around the conference seemed to indicate prices seemed to be at the point where it was low, and although it may drop a little more it was low enough to start to re-invest in purchasing – particularly for those that had the backing to buy and hold.
A few people indicated that investing outside of the traditional US only IP marketplace was done and the global portfolio was a necessity. BRG Capstone noted investing in Chinese patents was one thing to seriously consider.
Wrapup: As usual, the industry is constantly changing and it is those that are adapting quickly are seeing the financial benefits. Having a licensing program for any venture requires a key team to search out and execute on opportunities, and with new geographical opportunities and IP assets seemingly at the bottom (for now), there are deals to be made.