IP market – buying and selling

IP-owning businesses maintained a similar approach to the secondary market in the past year, although the response from private practitioners indicates a strong trend towards the further monetisation of portfolios. There were noteworthy jumps in all aspects of buying and selling, with 60% reporting that they had helped clients to sell patents, 53% assisting in buying patents and 54% identifying patents to acquire or divest. This was up from 45%, 43% and 48% in last year’s survey.

There were no significant changes to the number of IP-owning companies buying patents, but there was a distinctive shift in the decision to undertake this strategy. Last year, purchases were driven by the need to secure freedom to operate with 30% of respondents listing this as the primary reason. However, it was only listed as the main factor by 16% of those surveyed this year. Instead, developing monetisation opportunities took the top spot, at 29%, while preventing competitors and NPEs from getting a hold of patents saw an uptick in importance, from 7% to 18% and from 2% to 7%, respectively.

This year’s data indicates that price levels of patents on the market are stabilising. There was a decrease in respondents reporting that patents were cheaper, down from 31% to 16%, while 26% said that prices have not changed – up from 16% the year before. Of those that said that patent prices were falling, they pointed to problems caused by the PTAB and patent eligibility in the United States as the most important reasons for this.

Figure 16. In the past year, has your company sold patents? (IP owners)


Figure 17. In the past year, has your company bought patents? (IP owners)


Figure 18. If you have bought patents in the past year, has it primarily been to____? (IP owners)


Figure 19. In terms of pricing, do you believe that____? (IP owners)


Table 3. If you believe that patents are now cheaper, what do you think has driven this fall in value? (Please select up to three and list in order, with 1 being the most important) (IP owners)

 First most importantSecond most importantThird most important
Problems caused by the PTAB25%19%14%
Concerns over patent eligibility in the United States20%26%17%
The effects of TC Heartland4%0%12%
Less interest overall in patent monetisation10%9%10%
The winding down of the smartphone wars6%7%7%
Greater availability of patents in the marketplace19%23%14%
Increased difficulty enforcing SEPs8%16%26%

Table 4. When purchasing patents, which jurisdictions are your priority? (Please select up to three and list in order, with 1 being the most important) (IP owners)

 First most importantSecond most importantThird most important
United Kingdom5%9%14%
United States69%13%15%

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