Technology whose time has come

Filed under: News |

More than 50 intellectual property patents are scheduled to be auctioned in Chicago on April 18.
Among them is Patent No. 6,697,032 for “A display device having an integral docking station to facilitate the display device to be used in conjunction with a palm sized computing device for applications executing on the palm sized computing device is disclosed.”
And according to Colorado Springs-based Taeus, 6,697,032 just might be the pick of the litter.
The company’s analysts determined that although the patent might have had little value as recently as last year, the pace of technology has likely made it quite valuable.
“At this year’s Computer Electronics Show (held in Las Vegas in January) products were introduced that appear to use this technology,” said Jim Adams, the firm’s chief technology officer.
And future uses could be even more pervasive, said marketing director Matt Troyer, which would make the patent even more valuable.
“Pretty soon, you’ll be checking into your hotel, and instead of watching a movie on the hotel channel, you’ll have the movie you want on your iPod,” he said. “You’ll just dock it in the TV set in the room — and the patent seems to cover that application.”
Taeus’ technical report gives 6,697,032 its highest rating for future commercial use.
According to the company, which has analyzed more than 50,000 patents since 1992, “The technology will be an essential factor for future mainstream products because of its obvious advantages over earlier technologies that are phasing out. An example is LEDs used for head and taillights in automobiles.”
The auction is being organized by Ocean Tomo, a Chicago-based intellectual capital merchant bank. The opening bid for 6,697,032 is $10,000.
“But that’s just a number,” said Wendy Chou, one of the company’s directors. “There may be a reserve, or we may have expectations as to value — but we never reveal those.”
Even Taeus’ Adams is cautious about placing a fixed price on the patent.
“We do technical analysis,” he said. “It’s up to the market to determine value.”
Troyer is less reticent.
“Major companies, for example Sony and Mitsubishi, are selling products that appear to infringe on this patent,” he said. “They can buy the patent and license it to other players or pay to license it from someone else. But in either case, they’ll have to pay.”
Troyer said that 6,697,032 might be interesting to “patent trolls” — investors, often lawyers, who acquire patents and initiate legal proceedings against companies that might be infringing.
Most patent transactions are private, Chou said, so market value is difficult to quantify, especially for a patent with such broad applications.
But, as an example of the value of broad-based patents, she cited Mosaid Technology’s recent purchase of a portfolio of patents from Agere Systems. The patents cover technology that allows wireless Internet and e-mail access on laptop computers and mobile handsets.
Mosaid paid $70 million for the patents and expects to realize $200 million in license fees during the next five years.
Ocean Tomo technical analyst Steve Yelderman said the scope of 6,697,032 is “incredibly broad.”
“Its range is so wide that it’s difficult to put a value number on it,” he said. “But I was amazed when I went to the mall and saw products for sale that infringe the patent.”
John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com