Tuesday, November 1, 2011

World Series, Angels, and Trolls: More on the Value of Intellectual Property

During the World Series, a patent troll friend of mine (yes, I know that’s hard to believe) offered up two insights that I wanted to pass along.  First, a patent or other intellectual property (IP) might be an angel investor’s last defense against a shut out (total loss) and, second, patent trolls only value patents that have been infringed.

With regard to angel investors, he noted that if a play goes bad, sometimes the IP gets stranded on base in a failed company.  Team management may have called in the wrong plays, pitching (marketing) collapsed, and opposing pitchers may have thrown sliders around your entry barriers.  Yet, the IP remains on base.  That IP (particularly, the patents) can be bought and sold.  The angel investor therefore has something left to sell to recoup losses.  Unlike baseball, while the team lost, the angel gets the save and improves his ERA (over what might have been).  That, it seems, explains to me why some angels won’t play for entrepreneurs who have not applied for a patent much less actually won a game (obtained one).

My friend also pointed out that non-infringed patents do not fit a troll’s game plan.  They want an IP asset that they can use to swing for the bleachers, and now.  So, just having a patent to offer won’t be enough to get a troll to swing.  Perhaps, what that means for the entrepreneurs is that if you have a patent that you want to sell (to a troll), you might want to identify a potential infringer.  Then you’ll want to gather information buttressing your argument that the potential target is infringing.  Having a patent attorney on the mound finding and/or reviewing that information for you will increase your odds of getting to the playoffs. 

We at the Villhard Patent Group would be happy to discuss patents and the patenting process with you.  Please contact us for more information at (512) 897-0399 or see www.villhardpatents.com.

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