Joff Wild

Alcatel-Lucent’s efforts to monetise its patent portfolio continue apace. In the wake of the company’s announcement that it has appointed Laura Quatela as executive vice-president of intellectual property, with a direct report to CEO Michel Combes, comes the news that it has retained ICAP Patent Brokerage to organise a sealed bid auction of more than 850 granted patents and applications on 9th October.  The assets are being split into 14 lots, each covering a distinct technological area.  

IAM understands that ICAP and Alcatel–Lucent, who have been in discussions about the sale for the last six months, believe that what is on offer comprises heavily-cited assets that read on a number of key technologies. The pricing estimates certainly reflect this – with initial bidding guidance ranging from “Low 7 Figures” to “Low 8 Figures” depending on the lot concerned. Notably, well over 50% of what is being put up for sale is made up of non-US rights, including grants from a number of individual European countries and the EPO, China, Korea and Japan. This may be a further indication of the internationalisation of the IP marketplace; but, that said, whether the amounts generated actually get close to the value estimates is an entirely different matter.  

Parties are able to register an interest in taking part in the auction with ICAP Patent Brokerage, with sealed bids being accepted from 9 am Pacific Time on 6th October to 5 pm on 9th October. Only registered  entities are able to participate.

Alcatel-Lucent has been working hard to make its patents sweat for several years now. In addition to a 2012 $2.1 billion debt financing package agreed with Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, and secured against its patent portfolio, the company has transferred patents to NPEs including Vringo and Sound View Innovations, and has also assigned assets to Intellectual Ventures. However, a hook-up with RPX proved to be something of  disappointment.

For ICAP Patent Brokerage – which was recently spun-out from ICAP following a management buy-out – this is the second big appointment in just two months. In June, the firm announced that it will be holding a sealed bid auction of 239 Xerox patents on 16th September. There is also the matter of a forthcoming auction of patents relating to the financial services sector. If the firm can now deliver meaningful results to its clients from these sales then it could be looking at a very exciting future.