Thursday, May 30, 2013

Motorola Mobility: Has there been an impairment of goodwill in Google's acquisition of its patent portfolio?

When companies face a decline in the value of a certain asset, they may find it necessary to write down the goodwill value of that asset to reflect such impairment. One need look no further than such august companies as News Corp. and Tata Steel. Thus News Corp., in what was described as a "goodwill impair charge", recently announced a write-down in the value of its Australian and US publishing assets in the amount of $1.4 billion, here. As for Tata Steel, it announced in mid-May that it was taking a write-down of $1.6 billion largely in connection with the commercial challenges in connection with its takeover six years ago of Corus, a British steel maker, here. Technically, since goodwill is the excess paid for an asset over its book value, it can be argued that the write down of the goodwill is a mere bookkeeping technicality since it is in effect a non-cash loss. Perhaps. But such write downs by high visibility companies attract media attention.

I thought of the issue of goodwill write-downs in reading a report about the most recent decision of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) regarding the patent wars between Google and Microsoft, here. In particular, the ITC ruled that Microsoft's Xbox device did not infringe a patent belonging to the Google subsidiary, Motorola Mobility. Initially, Google alleged infringement by Microsoft of five Motorola Mobility patents. Four of these patent claims were dropped (including two patents that were deemed essential to a standard and which Google choose not to continue to assert against Microsoft), leaving the one patent at issue in the current ITC decision.

Readers will likely remember that, to great media fanfare, Google acquired the Microsoft Mobility patents in an amount described in excess of $12 billion,here. Later reports lowered the amount attributed to the patents. As reported on c/net on July 25, 2012, here, "[t]he search giant yesterday filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) outlining how it valued its $12.4 billion (not $12.5 billion it originally reported) acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Google says that $2.9 billion of the purchase price accounted for Motorola's cash, while $730 million went to customer relationships and $670 million to other net assets.The largest percentage of Motorola's value, according to Google, was the $5.5 billion in "patents and developed technology." The remaining $2.6 billion went to goodwill, or the company's value above and beyond its assets."

Either way, this is an extraordinary amount to pay for a patent portfolio. How was Google intending to benefit from this acquisition? Did the amounts paid represent, in whole or in part, a good-faith estimate of an income stream that Google hoped to generate from receipt of payment of patent royalties? (This rationale has been mentioned as the basis for the initial and ultimately widely over-optimistic valuation placed on the Kodak patent portfolio at the end of 2011).  Or was the portfolio intended to provide Google with a ready arsenal of patents that it could threaten to use, or actually rely upon to extract a favourable cross-licensing arrangement (in that wonderful phrase taken from the Cold War, "mutually assured destruction"), should it be sued by a competitor? Or was the portfolio, or at least select patents within it, intended to provide offensive legal firepower, ideally serving as the basis for obtaining a court-ordered ban against sales of product by competitors?

It appears, at least until now, that the third alternative has become front and central in the exploitation of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio. If so, then I wonder what happens to the valuation of the patent portfolio, or at least those patents that form the basis for an infringement suit, when a court or administrative agency rules that no infringement has taken place. By analogy to the write-down of the goodwill of other corporate assets, does there come a time when a company acquiring a patent portfolio has to write down the goodwill value thereof? In particular, what is a company to do when it acquires a patent portfolio, on the basis of which the company then sues upon and expends significant sums in the maintenance of the law suit, ultimately to be rebuffed by the courts? Has there been a material impairment of goodwill that should be recognized (to extent that the accounting principles of the jurisdiction recognize goodwill in a patent in such circumstances)?

Any readers who might have insights into how a company should properly value a patent portfolio, especially following an acquisition, and whether such valuation is subject to change based on the fate of the exploitation of the patents, are invited to share their insights.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Best Practices in IP 2013: the monetisation session

Following Jonathan Taub's keynote speech, today's "Best Practices in IP 2013" conference continued with a panel session featuring Paul Lerner (WiLAN), Naftali Levy (Alvarion), Ilan Ben David (Genoa Color), Zvi Marom (BATM), Steven Steger (Global IP Law Group) and Naomi Assia (Naomi Assia Law Offices). Moderator Monte Silver handled this session as a Q and A as follows:

Q. Whatever happened to Nortel?
Steven Steger: after Nortel became bankrupt its only major asset was its IP portfolio -- and no portfolio of that magnitude had gone up for sale before. Nortel had the opportunity to become a licensing company or to sell up.  Given that the biggest players in the mobile technology sector were young, patent-naked companies, the option of selling Nortel's incredibly unencumbered portfolio was too good to miss. Once Google indicated that it was prepared to pay $900 million, that raised a great deal of interest in acquiring the patents -- which ultimately sold to $4.5 billion.

Q. What makes a patent valuable?
Paul Lerner: lots of things. It may be useful for litigating, exploiting or using defensively.  In each case its value will be different.  As a patent litigator, the value to me is what I expect to make by enforcing that patent.

Ilan Ben David: when people have a defensive or offensive marketing strategy, they will buy a technology rather than just the patents. However, once the objective is enforcement, all the interest is in an allegedly infringed patent -- you can't expect to sell an entire technology portfolio and perhaps not even its uninfringed patents.

Naftali Levy: the value of patents is not always apparent, even in the course of litigation. As an in-house manager, one has to know the status of each patent in standards-related technology.

Q. How do you decide what to do with your resources: when do you invest in R&D, litigation or just sell up?
Zvi Marom: there is always a limit to the amount one can invest in patents at the R&D stage, before patents for new products are filed. As a start-up, it's also useful to guard one's flow of revenue by getting the big guys to protect you against the risks and costs of patent litigation. Investment in protecting patent rights in countries that (at the mildest) have no respect for patent rights must also be taken into account. One has to put all possible expenses into a "witches' brew" and see what comes out.

Naomi Assia: it's good for start-ups to focus not just on the fact that they have a couple of patents but on the potential for monetisation in the future.

Q. What is a non-core asset and when do you sell it?
Zvi Marom: (i) an asset that is not capable of generating 10% of one's income and it's not so new; (iii) when you can sell it to someone other than a competitor.

Best Practices in IP 2013: conference keynote on monetisation

Today's Tel Aviv conference on "Best Practices in Intellectual Property 2013: International Perspectives on Creating and Extracting Value" focused on, among other things, IP monetisation.  This session, moderated by Monte Silver (CEO Yazam IP), was opened by Jonathan Taub (Acacia Research Group) who began with a fundamental question: why monetise patents? Patents have become a discrete asset class, he said, citing figures from the World Bank and Deloitte & Touche to buttress his contention that monetisation has become a common practice since the beginning of the 2000s, fuelled by an accompanying technology explosion. There is no better example of this than the field of telecoms technology.

Jonathan compared the phenomenon of a country with a small number of mega-corporations enjoying a large international market share with that of the start-up economy of a country such as Israel, with a large number of smaller IP-laden companies but initially a very low international market share.  How does such a country monetise its patents and grow its businesses -- by licensing or by selling its patents? A good case can be made for each path. Royalty income appears on the profit-and-loss account rather than as an asset disposal, and therefore does not affect the valuation of the licensing company, though it may not satisfy the immediate need for cash infusion which only a sale can achieve.  Typically, large and successful companies make more money by licensing their IP portfolio than by selling.

Jonathan recommended licensing over sale as being less disruptive of the patent holder's business and as exposing it to lower risk, while offering the opportunity for the licensee to enrich the licensor through its own experience and technology skills. Licensing can lead to ongoing relationships, which in turn lead to greater trust and further cooperation.  Another consideration is that, when a patent is seen to be offered for sale for a long time, potential purchasers wonder what's wrong with it and can be reluctant to buy it.

Jonathan then spoke of the advantages of seeking a deal through an intermediary, the tendency of licensor and licensee to gravitate towards one another and the need for good due diligence.  What about IP auctions? Do they still make sense? Enigmatically, he indicated that there may be situations in which they do, but he did not adumbrate on when they might.

Earlier sessions of this conference have been noted on the IPKat here, here and here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Theories of harm with SEP licensing do not stack up

In this guest posting authored by regular IP Finance contributor Keith Mallinson (WiseHarbor), Keith debunks economic theories of effects and harm due to alleged royalty stacking with numerous patents essential to cellular standards. He does this by assessing the development of these technologies, products and services, market entry, competition and prices over the last six years or so. Keith shows that the sector is thriving and fast-growing. Evidence reveals that aggregate patent royalties paid are nothing like as high as is commonly alleged and are not detrimental. By comparing technologies and their performance over several years, identifying increasing product choice and new market entrants, and tracking key metrics with reducing price indices, decreasing Herfindahl-Hirschman market concentration indices and stellar market growth figures, Keith shows that the dire predictions of academics including Mark A. Lemley and Carl Shapiro in their 2006 and 2013 papers are incorrect, unfounded and based on inapplicable theories.

Exponential global growth in cellular data with mobile broadband

Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, November 2012

Cellular prices flat or falling versus the rising CPI

Source: U.S. BLS indices

Herfindahl-Hirschman Index tracking declining manufacturer market share concentration

Sources: WiseHarbor analysis on figures from Gartner,
Strategy Analytics and WiseHarbor using company disclosures
Keith observes that these inapplicable theories and assertions are also troublingly being adopted by judges and government agencies in their smartphone patent war rulings, despite the weight of so much evidence to the contrary.

For ease of reading, Keith's contribution (which is rather longer than usual) can be accessed here as a PDF document.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property Report

The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (The IP Commission) released its report earlier today, May 22, 2013.  The IP Commission is an impressive group of individuals led by Dennis C. Blair, former Director of National Intelligence and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., former Ambassador to China, Governor of the state of Utah, and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.  (I thought Huntsman was a very credible candidate for President of the United States in the last U.S. presidential election cycle.)  The other members include: Craig R. Barrett, former Chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation; Slade Gorton, former U.S. Senator from the state of Washington, Washington Attorney General, and member of the 9-11 Commission; William J. Lynn III, CEO of DRS Technologies and former Deputy Secretary of Defense;  Deborah Wince-Smith, President and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness; Michael K. Young, President of the University of Washington and former Deputy Under Secretary of State.  (Notably, President Young was also the Dean of George Washington University’s law school.)  I have included the recommendations of the IP Commission below.  The recommendations that caught my immediate attention involve the International Trade Commission, the Economic Espionage Act, increasing the number of green cards available for high-tech workers and expanding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s jurisdiction.   I’ve previously blogged on the issue concerning IP theft and cybersecurity here.  Here is a Washington Post editorial about the report.  The full report is here. 


The Commission recommends short-term, medium-term, and long-term remedies.

Short-term measures incorporate the immediate steps that policymakers should take to stem the tide of IP theft and include the following:

Designate the national security advisor as the principal policy coordinator for all actions on the protection of American IP. The theft of American IP poses enormous challenges to national security and the welfare of the nation. These challenges require the direct involvement of the president’s principal advisor on national security issues to ensure that they receive the proper priority and the full engagement of the U.S. government.

Provide statutory responsibility and authority to the secretary of commerce to serve as the principal official to manage all aspects of IP protection. The secretary of commerce has sufficient human, budgetary, and investigative resources to address the full range of IP-protection issues. If given the statutory authority to protect American IP, we anticipate a robust set of responses.

Strengthen the International Trade Commission’s 337 process to sequester goods containing stolen IP. The current 337 process is not fast enough to prevent goods containing or benefitting from stolen IP from entering the United States. A speedier process, managed by a strong interagency group led by the secretary of commerce, can both prevent counterfeit goods from entering the United States and serve as a deterrent to future offenders. The speedier process would impound imports suspected of containing or benefitting from IP theft based on probable cause. A subsequent investigation would allow the importing company to prove that the goods did not contain or benefit from stolen IP.

Empower the secretary of the treasury, on the recommendation of the secretary of commerce, to deny the use of the American banking system to foreign companies that repeatedly use or benefit from the theft of American IP. Access to the American market is a principal interest of firms desiring to become global industrial leaders. Protecting American IP should be a precondition for operating in the American market. Failure to do so ought to result in sanctions on bank activities, essentially curtailing U.S. operations.

Increase Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation resources to investigate and prosecute cases of trade-secret theft, especially those enabled by cyber means. The increase in trade-secret theft, in many ways enabled by emerging cyber capabilities, requires a significant increase in investigative and prosecutorial resources.

Consider the degree of protection afforded to American companies’ IP a criterion for approving major foreign investments in the United States under the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) process. CFIUS assesses national security risk and national security implications of proposed transactions involving U.S. companies. Adding an additional evaluative criterion to the review process that assesses the manner in which a foreign company obtains IP would help improve IP-protection environments.

Enforce strict supply-chain accountability for the U.S. government. Establishing control and auditing measures that enable suppliers to the U.S. government to guarantee the strongest IP-protection standards should be the “new normal” that the U.S. government demands.

Require the Securities and Exchange Commission to judge whether companies’ use of stolen IP is a material condition that ought to be publicly reported. Corporate leaders will take seriously the protection of IP, including in their supply chains, if reporting IP theft in disclosure statements and reports to boards of directors and shareholders is mandatory.

Greatly expand the number of green cards available to foreign students who earn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees in American universities and who have a job offer in their field upon graduation. In too many cases, American universities train the best minds of foreign countries, who then return home with a great deal of IP knowledge and use it to compete with American companies. Many of these graduates have job offers and would gladly stay in the United States if afforded the opportunity.

Legislative and legal reforms represent actions that aim to have positive effects over the medium-term. To build a more sustainable legal framework to protect American IP, Congress and the administration should take the following actions:

Amend the Economic Espionage Act (EEA) to provide a federal private right of action for trade-secret theft. If companies or individuals can sue for damages due to the theft of IP, especially trade secrets, this will both punish bad behavior and deter future theft.

Make the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) the appellate court for all actions under the EEA. The CAFC is the appellate court for all International Trade Commission cases and has accumulated the most expertise of any appellate court on IP issues. It is thus in the best position to serve as the appellate court for all matters under the EEA.

Instruct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to obtain meaningful sanctions against foreign companies using stolen IP. Having demonstrated that foreign companies have stolen IP, the FTC can take sanctions against those companies.

Strengthen American diplomatic priorities in the protection of American IP. American ambassadors ought to be assessed on protecting intellectual property, as they are now assessed on promoting trade and exports. Raising the rank of IP attachés in countries in which theft is the most serious enhances their ability to protect American IP.

Over the longer term, the Commission recommends the following capacity-building measures:

Build institutions in priority countries that contribute toward a “rule of law” environment in ways that protect IP. Legal and judicial exchanges, as well as training programs sponsored by elements of the U.S. government—including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office—will pay long-term dividends in the protection of IP.

Develop a program that encourages technological innovation to improve the ability to detect counterfeit goods. Prize competitions have proved to be both meaningful and cost-effective ways to rapidly develop and assess new technologies. New technologies, either to validate the integrity of goods or to detect fraud, would both deter bad behavior and serve as models for the creation of new IP.

Ensure that top U.S. officials from all agencies push to move China, in particular, beyond a policy of indigenous innovation toward becoming a self-innovating economy. China’s various industrial policies, including indigenous innovation, serve to dampen the country’s own technological advancements. Utility, or “petty,” patents are a particularly pernicious form of Chinese IP behavior and need to cease being abused.

Develop IP “centers of excellence” on a regional basis within China and other priority countries. This policy aims to show local and provincial leaders that protecting IP can enhance inward foreign investment; this policy both strengthens the protection of IP and benefits the promotion possibilities of officials whose economic goals are achieved by producing foreign investment.

Establish in the private, nonprofit sector an assessment or rating system of levels of IP legal protection, beginning in China but extending to other countries as well. One of the tools necessary to develop “centers of excellence” is a rating system that shows the best—and worst—geographical areas for the protection of IP.

The Commission recommends the following measures to address cybersecurity:

Implement prudent vulnerability-mitigation measures. This recommendation provides a summary of the security activities that ought to be undertaken by companies. Activities such as network surveillance, sequestering of critical information, and the use of redundant firewalls are proven and effective vulnerability-mitigation measures.

Support American companies and technology that can both identify and recover IP stolen through cyber means. Without damaging the intruder’s own network, companies that experience cyber theft ought to be able to retrieve their electronic files or prevent the exploitation of their stolen information.

Reconcile necessary changes in the law with a changing technical environment. Both technology and law must be developed to implement a range of more aggressive measures that identify and penalize illegal intruders into proprietary networks, but do not cause damage to third parties. Only when the danger of hacking into a company’s network and exfiltrating trade secrets exceeds the rewards will such theft be reduced from a threat to a nuisance.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Top 150 Licensors

On May 1, 2013, the Global License publication released its annual list of the top 150 (in the past this was a lower number) licensors.  According to Global License, the top 150 licensors account for around $230 billion in retail sales of licensed products and information.  The top 10 licensors on the list include: 1) Disney Consumer Products ($39.3 billion) (brands include Mickey Mouse and Avengers); 2) Iconix ($13 billion) (brands include Starter, Zoo York, Umbro and Buffalo); 3) PVH Corp. ($13 billion) (brands include Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Izod); 4) Meredith ($11.2 billion) (brands include Better Homes and Garden and Parents); 5) Mattel ($7 billion) (brands include Barbie and Fisher-Price); 6) Sanrio ($7 billion) (brands include Hello Kitty); 7) Warner Bros. Consumer Products ($6 billion) (brands include Superman and Batman); 8) Nickelodeon Consumer Products ($5.5 billion) (brands include Dora the Explorer and Diego); 9) Major League Baseball ($5.2 billion) (brands include the NY Yankees); and 10) Hasbro (brands include Transformers and Nerf).  Other notables in the top 25 include Weight Watchers International, the Collegiate Licensing Company and Ralph Lauren.  The entire list along with commentary about the licensors is here.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Bangladesh Building Collapse: the Challenge to Brands

With the horror of the collapse on 24 April 24 of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh still claiming more victims, now numbering over 1,000, and despite the remarkable news that one more survivor was recently found, attention has been drawn as well to the role of the various international brand holders whose products were manufactured at the site. The eight-story building housed five garment factories, at which clothing products for various well-known brands were made. A particularly interesting discussion on the issue appeared in a AP article dated 12 May ("Leaving Bangladesh: Not an Easy Choice for Brands", here). Brands mentioned in the article include Walmart, H&M, The Children's Place, Mango, J.C. Penney, Gap, Benetton, Sears, Disney and Joe Fresh.

As described in the article, the choice facing these brand holders is stark: "Stay and work to improve conditions. Or leave and face higher costs, similar or worse worker conditions in other low-wage countries and criticism for abandoning a poor nation where pre-capita gross domestic product is just $1,940 per year." As for the specific site itself, it is not clear how many brands had product being made there. It does not appear that there is a media rush by brand holders to admit publicly any manufacture at the site, given that there is supposed to be an auditing of the conditions to ensure that work and worker conditions are reasonable. There is talk of campus boycotts against certain brands (the Gap brand is mentioned) and angry postings on the Facebook pages of Joe Fresh, Mango and Benetton were reported. To this point, most of the retailers listed above do not appear to plan to leave Bangladesh. On the other hand, Disney announced that is stopping manufacture of its branded goods in Bangladesh. It is not clear whether any other owner of branded goods being manufactured in Bangladesh will follow.

Against this backdrop, it is interesting to consider the relationship how brands owners, especially those with an alleged connection with the collapsed site, might be affected by the Bangladesh tragedy. First, to this point there does not appear to be anything that would make any of the brand holders legally liable for the tragedy. Compare that with a situation in which the brand holder/manufacturer is directly connected with a faulty product bearing its mark. The J&J recall of the Tylenol product in 1982 comes to mind here. There, as well, an issue of life and death arose and the company faced a frontal attack on its fundamental goodwill and credibility, was wrapped up in the products bearing the Tylenol mark.

With respect to the Bangladesh tragedy, however, while mind-numbing in its scope, the events do not appear to be directly connected with the action of any of the brand holders. That makes the issue much more nuanced. The challenge to the integrity of the brand lies more in the sphere of morality and trust, more amorphous and less acute than the J&J/Tylenol-like situation. Further, the considerations of the branded retailer may differ from that of a product brand holder. The former may well have a much more complex supply chain in Bangladesh, making it much more difficult to complete an exit, a least in the near term. Moreover, threat of a boycott are difficult, if not possible, to maintain for very long against a retailer. There is also the issue of public memory; none of the brands, at least as of the time of this writing, has prominently been connected with the disaster. Under such circumstances, unless a particular company is subject to a board and management that places a special emphasis on issues of morality and ethics, the most likely scenario is that the matter will ultimately fade away for most companies.

Still, when the brands at issue are products rather than retail services, the risk may potentially be greater, In such a case, it may be easier for a pressure group (or even a single committed activist) to keep that specific product in the public's eye. Some companies, such as apparently Disney, may simply decide that the risk of adverse publicity is not worth it. A view was expressed in the article that, in the long run, other brands active in manufacture in Bangladesh will cut back or fully withdraw their operations over a period of time, despite the rock-bottom low labor costs in the country. It will be good to revisit in a year's time the roll call of brands actively having their products manufactured in Bangladesh to see how many have actually exited the country.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Marathon Patent Group – The Hot Bet?

Apparently since around mid-November of last year, Marathon Patent Group (MPG) evolved from American Strategic Minerals and discarded its mineral and real estate assets in favor of an IP management and enforcement services business model.  MPG has been very, very active since then and has received quite a bit of (mostly positive) press (here, here, here and here).  MPG detailed some of its activities in an April 25, 2013 report:

·         Acquired CyberFone Systems and its patent portfolio which has generated 32 settlement and license agreements for a total of $15.5 million in revenue

·         Acquired US Patent 5,331,637 from MOSAID Technologies, one of the world's leading intellectual property management companies

·         Entered into a strategic relationship with IP Navigation (IPNav), the leader in full-service patent monetization

·         Completed the acquisition of Sampo IP LLC acquiring its patent portfolio consisting of three patents and one pending patent application

·         Commenced our first licensing campaign on March 20, 2013 by filing a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC, Siemens Energy, Inc., CB Apex Realtors, d/b/a Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Juniper Networks, Inc., Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., and Dell, Inc.

·         Established a new IP Research and Services Center at the University of Arizona Science & Technology Park in Tucson, Arizona . . . .

Since April 25, 2013, MPG has also, through its subsidiaries, filed patent infringement lawsuits against Ambit Energy Holdings LLC, BMC Software Inc., HomeAway Inc., Hoover's Inc. and Ristken Software in the Eastern District of Texas; Thompson Reuters in the District of Delaware; Sprint Nextel Corporation, Juniper Networks, Cisco Systems, Bloomberg L.P., Hitachi Cable America, D-Link Corporation, Avaya, Hewlett-Packard Company, Enterasys Networks, Extreme Networks, TIBCO Software, BT Group, SAVVIS Inc., Zhone Technologies, Huawei Technologies, Allied Telesis, and Adtran in the District of Delaware;  and E*Trade Financial Corporate Services Inc., Liberty Mutual Group Inc., Aetna Inc., Avon Products Inc., Starbucks Corporation, Yum! Brands Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, and Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. in the Eastern District of Texas. Like I mentioned before, MPG is getting a lot of press for its activity. 

Co-blogger Neil Wilkof recently raised the question about the interest of boards in questions concerning IP—and he expressly excluded an entity such as MPG.  An entity such as MPG, of course, is primarily concerned with IP and notably, patent expert Professor Craig Nard recently joined MPG's board of directors.  I think that the importance of IP will lead companies to move toward accessing the services of companies like MPG although presently MPG seems mostly (?) involved in the enforcement of its IP.   I also think more companies will seek to draw in more IP experts on their boards—including some professors.  Does anyone have a sense of whether companies are utilizing the valuation, auditing or related services of companies similar to MPG (although MPG may be a different breed according to Forbes)?  The Forbes article indicates that some companies may be doing just that with MPG. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Chief Judge Rader Upholds $345 million Jury Verdict for Patent Infringement

On May 1, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued an opinion in Versata Software Inc. v. SAP America Inc. affirming a jury verdict of infringement and damages by SAP for $345 million.  Chief Judge Rader authored the opinion.  The award includes $260 million for lost profits and $85 million for reasonable royalties for infringement of Versata Software’s claims covering its “hierarchical pricing engine” software.  The opinion is here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Vote for a Massive Open Online Course for Start-Ups

Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and iversityare sponsoring a contest for the development of Massive Open Online Courses(MOOCs).  The ten winners will receive 25,000 Euros and support in creating their course.  Basically, the purpose of the contest is to get the word out about and increase participation in MOOCs.  The time for submittal of proposals has passed and the public voting period has begun.  (after the public voting period to help assess demand, the jury chooses the winners).  The proposals include courses covering Harry Potter to Applied Biology to Network Security. 

Professor Karl Okamoto’s (Drexel University, Earle Mack School of Law) proposal is for a MOOC for advising startups.  Here is his description:

Participants in this course will obtain an understanding of the legal issues that should be addressed by a startup venture. The course is designed for two audiences – for aspiring legal practitioners and for the entrepreneurs who will consult them. It provides an overview of the applicable business, intellectual property and tax law doctrines (with an emphasis on US law), but emphasizes the various “private ordering” solutions that transcend a particular set of legal rules. The course will also consider various theories of entrepreneurial success and examine the role of lawyers and lawyering in the creation of value in light of these theories. Participants will gain familiarity with the praxis of entrepreneurial lawyering both as a means to developing concrete solutions to real world problems and as a lens on startup culture and practice. In addition to lectures by the instructor, participants in the course will undertake numerous hands-on exercises. Experts, both lawyers and entrepreneurs, will participate in the course, providing both feedback on student performances and expert discussion.

This looks like a very useful course, and I voted for it.  Any other supporters?  [If you see any other proposals that merit a vote, please note them in the comments.]