“We invite you to sell us your patents”- this message from Google has been roaming the internet since 27 April 2015. Any public announcement from a big company attracts a lot of attention. But when the company declares that they want to purchase patents from users, public’s curiosity increases even more. Unsurprisingly, many patent proprietors became interested in this proposal and took advantage of it.
Google users have been accustomed to fast, simple and user-friendly services. Their new Patent Purchase Promotion platform was no exception, as you were only asked to register online, specify your patent and offer a price. If Google decided to purchase your patent, they organised a sales contract and took care that everyone would be paid by late August. Fast and easy. Yet, some sceptics started to wonder what exactly Google’s intentions were, i.e. there must have been some additional conditions or hidden “stars” in the agreement.
According to Google, this experiment is expected to improve patent portfolio, remove friction from the patent market and help small patent holders sell their intellectual property quickly and easily, preventing them from patent trolls. Despite these sincere intentions, internet users have other theories why Google started this project. For example, they could have been planning to obtain and possess more various patents in order to protect themselves from the opposition of proprietors who hold similar patents. Alternatively, they simply wanted to increase their patent portfolio in a cheap way.
But perhaps the real reason is still unknown and yet to be discovered. It is possible that the future will give us more details that would explain why Google bought these patents (e.g. feedback from proprietors who sold their patents, Google’s attempts to repeat these actions and etc.).
After the campaign, Google was reluctant to share the results with the public and only revealed the facts that cannot say anything concrete about the success, continuity and scale of their experiment. The information they made public was the following:
- Google bought 28% of the patents related to their business
- An average price for a patent was 150 000 USD
- Some patents cost more that 1bn USD. The largest offered sum was 3.5bn USD
- The cheapest patent Google bought was 3000 USD and the most expensive – 250 000 USD.
To conclude, although we do not know the real intentions of Google, their actions remind us that patents is an important and innovative asset to the company.