Joff Wild

Issue 84 of IAM has been published and is available to subscribers on our website. Among the highlights in the latest edition are the findings of our annual benchmarking survey, which reports readers’ views on a wide variety of issues relating to the international IP market. This year’s findings are particularly interesting.

If 2015/16 was all about coming to terms with the implications of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Alice and wondering about patent eligibility in general in the United States, this year appears to be one in which senior operating company IP executives, their counterparts in non-practising entities (NPEs) and their advisers in private practice are finding renewed reasons to give the US market a chance. The 2017 IAM benchmarking survey finds sentiment heading back stateside – although serious doubts remain about the quality of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) output.

However, while more players appear willing to give the United States a chance, it is also clear that the long-hoped-for resurgence in deal making and pricing has yet to materialise. That said, this year’s findings reinforce those of last year: we have probably reached as low as things will go and there may even be the start of a slight upswing.

Across the Atlantic, renewed confidence in the United States means that fewer are looking to European courts and markets for salvation – especially given the uncertainties caused by the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote last June. Where Europe undoubtedly leads the way, though, is in the quality of the patents issued by the European Patent Office (EPO). Despite its widely reported troubles, respondents to our survey still feel that the EPO is way out in front of the other IP5 agencies: the Japan Patent Office, the Korean Intellectual Property Office, China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) and the USPTO. 

Meanwhile, our cover story comes from Joe Siino, the president and CEO of Via Licensing, who makes an impassioned plea for changes to the way patent licensing negotiations are done. The prisoner’s dilemma, Siino explains, is founded on the theory that two rational entities acting in their own self-interest, and lacking information or knowledge of each other’s plans, are bound to betray each other, causing a negative outcome for both. It is a scenario well known to those who regularly engage in patent licensing transactions. It is also incredibly destructive ? and it has to change. By embracing transparency, flexibility and fairness, Siino says, market players can break free from the prisoner’s dilemma to ensure better outcomes for all.

On the corporate side, we have contributions from both Google and Tata Consultancy Services on different aspects of their in-house IP management functions. We also review an incredible five years for InterDigital and look at how Chinese smartphone upstart Xiaomi has completely re-engineered its approach to patents to put them at the centre of its operations.

Other highlights in what is one of the biggest-ever editions of IAM include a discussion of how to calculate return on investment when considering the merits of joining a defensive aggregation operation and a deep dive into the Internet of Things patent landscape. On top of all this, we detail the ways in which plaintiffs can build winning strategies for the Chinese courts and review how the United States might embrace a patent box tax regime.