Jacob Schindler

Last October, a significant US patent portfolio owned by Korean smartphone maker Pantech was assigned to a new entity called GoldPeak Innovations. At the time, IAM wondered whether the portfolio would be passed along again, potentially to an NPE or other buyer. That’s still very much an open question. But some new details about the team behind GoldPeak suggest it may be planning a US monetisation campaign of its own.

Following up on earlier IAM reporting perhaps, the Korea Herald published a story about the transaction on Sunday. It also added that GoldPeak is run by patent attorneys who headed NPE SPH America. SPH was founded in 2007 by former Fish & Richardson partner Choongsoo Park, originally asserting patents Park had acquired the rights to. But blog readers will know SPH better for its litigation activities on behalf of the Korean R&D organisation ETRI. As we reported last month, the open cases in that campaign were thrown out when a US judge ruled that SPH never actually had standing to assert patents on ETRI’s behalf. Park left his post at SPH in 2013 to become executive vice president at Intellectual Discovery (ID), and the NPE is now helmed by Seokchan Baek.

Indeed, Park is mentioned in a story published yesterday by iPnomics as involved in the new entity. Also on board at GoldPeak is YoungJoon Rhee, who left his position as executive managing director at Intellectual Discovery in November of last year. Rhee’s LinkedIn profile now lists him as co-founder and CEO at GoldPeak Innovations as well as managing director at a VC firm. 

Pantech assigned at least 230 patents to GoldPeak, and it has also transferred a few patents to Intellectual Discovery, as well as to ID subsidiary Idea Bridge Asset Management. It’s unclear how involved ID is with the new GoldPeak entity. It may be a venture that ID executives Park and Rhee decided to pursue independently. Alternatively, GoldPeak could be a spinoff designed to put the public-private fund at an arm’s length distance from any US enforcement campaigns. The situation recalls ID's 2015 transfer of patents to a company run by another apparent former ID employee, Changsun Park. Park's Game and Technology Co subsequently asserted those patents in the US.

Whatever degree of involvement ID has in this campaign, SPH’s history gives us some indication of what GoldPeak’s strategy might look like. On behalf of ETRI it was able to conclude licences with some major mobile players, and it was certainly not afraid to file US infringement lawsuits to get them done. Also of note is that SPH sued Samsung with patents developed by state-funded ETRI – so Korean firms shouldn’t assume they are safe from this Pantech portfolio either.