The Denver Post has published an interesting article titled, "Yahoo Lines Up Bids for About 3,000 Patents." The article discusses recent efforts by Yahoo to publicize the sale of almost 3,000 patents and pending applications by auction assisted by Black Stone IP. Notably, some of the patents "date back to 1996" the company's founding--which begs the question about remaining term length--and cover the core search business of Yahoo. This patent sale is separate from the core business sale and represents a significant difference in value, according to the article. The estimates of the value of the core business was placed at around $4 to $8 billion apparently with (most of) the patents. Verizon supposedly bid $3 billion, but this did not include the patents for sale. So, does that mean the patents are valued between $1 and $5 billion? In valuing around 2,000 of the patents, Maulin Shah of Envision IP arrived at a figure between $965 million and $1.34 billion. The article states that this is based, in part, on past historical licensing revenue. In addition, the article notes that Yahoo has collected "$600 million in patent sales and licensing fees in the last three years."
Given the state of U.S. patent law, the valuation of the patents and ultimate sale price will be interesting. Joff Wild of IAM (Intellectual Asset Management) recently authored a blog post for the IPKat which essentially reviews the current state of patent valuation. Notably, there could be some patent bargains right now. Given Enfish and TLI Communications, the U.S. patents will need a very careful analysis. However, if the patents are purchased for defensive purposes only, then maybe the analysis will not be so careful. Google is rumored as a potential buyer--competition issues?
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