Wednesday 25 February 2015

The Merger of ipCreate and Article One Partners

Earlier this year, ipCreate and Article One Partners, perhaps best known for enabling crowd sourcing of prior art, announced a merger.  Here is part of the announcement about the merger:

Founded in 2012, ipCreate will continue to provide industry leaders in the US, Europe and Asia with on-demand patented inventions at the chokepoints of disruptive market change, with the patents themselves and related landscape opportunity systematically vetted by AOP’s global network of prior art researchers adding to quality assurance.  With poor quality patents a growing burden on business and the subject of mounting challenges by the courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the integration of patent quality control processes early in the invention process is expected to fill a vital customer need.
“One of the lessons my three-and-a-half years as head of the Patent and Trademark Office taught me is that businesses benefit greatly from a systemic approach to improving the quality of their patents — and the earlier in the innovation process, the better,” said David Kappos, ipCreate advisor and former Director of the USPTO. “With this merger, ipCreate has now put all the pieces in place to provide clients with high-value innovation on demand backed by unusually high-quality intellectual property.”
. . .
John Cronin, CEO of ipCreate, was also instrumental in the merger. “When I was IBM’s top inventor and ran its ‘patent factory’ in the 1990s, some people thought it was just a numbers game — about having the most patents. That was never what it was about,” he explained. “Our goal was to develop high-quality patented inventions in disruptive technologies. That’s how IBM invented the future. With Article One Partner’s help, that’s what we intend to do again. Only now we plan to invent “on demand” to suit the specific needs of our partners and to the highest standards of quality.”

Article One Partners brings much to the table. "The merger is expected to provide a number of strategic benefits including the ability to leverage AOP’s existing customer base, strong “white-hat” branding, enhanced patent intelligence, patent quality services and increased depth in executive leadership through the addition of Marshall Phelps and the AOP management team."
The board of directors and the advisory group is impressive, including Marshall Phelps, Jr., John Cronin, Peter Holden, Robert Armitage, Ruud Peters, David Kappos and Mike Brochu.  The leadership team is also a distinguished group. 
So, the game is not so much about amassing patents, but strategically acquiring one or a small set of quality patents (read Alice) “at the chokepoint[].”   True enough, most agree that quality patents are not so much a problem; however, litigation “abuse” is something that I am sure others will complain about.  But, I think this group will “work around” that problem with sensible licensing practices. 
Here is a blurb about the philosophy of ipCreate:
Our mission is to forecast the direction of innovation in the fastest-growing new product markets and then create strategic patent portfolios in the disruptive high-value technologies driving that growth. We know first-hand that the greatest value in the IP asset class belongs to a small minority of foundational patents. By working with select leaders in industries undergoing rapid technological disruption – whether dominant players in the market or visionary startups – we will employ ipCreate’s proprietary tools and resources to identify promising innovation areas and rapidly create foundational patents at the chokepoints of looming market change.
With major financial backing, we expect to fund and execute more than 100 strategic invention and IP creation projects and produce thousands of foundational patents by the year 2017. By restoring the historic link between patents and invention (rather than litigation), ipCreate also hopes to strengthen a patent system that is crucial to U.S. competitiveness.
I think the merger with Article One Partners is a pretty damn good idea.  Who doesn't want to wear a "white hat?"  I do wonder how many of the researchers will go along with the new venture.  [I have to say that I also like how they put “ip” in lower case letters and capitalize the “C” in create.]  What do you think?

No comments: