Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Intellectual Ventures buys up Transmeta's portfolio

Intellectual Ventures Symbol a typical Transmeta idea It is a rather interesting time to buy a microprocessor patent portfolio. Tech PC sales and related probably will drop a bit in 2009. From an article by Rick Merritt in EE Times, (01/28/2009 9:02 PM EST):
SAN JOSE, Calif. ‹ Intellectual Ventures, a patent development and licensing company, has acquired the patent portfolio of Transmeta Corp., a startup that made an unsuccessful bid to develop x86-compatible processors. The portfolio includes more than 140 issued U.S. patents and others pending and issued in the U.S. and elsewhere. The announcement comes as Novafora Inc., a venture-backed company founded in 2004, said it completed the $255.6 million acquisition of Transmeta originally announced in November. Novafora will use Transmeta's technology to boost its video processor designs; Intellectual Ventures will license the Transmeta technology on a non-exclusive basis. "The acquisition of the Transmeta semiconductor patents augments one of the most comprehensive patent portfolios in the semiconductor field which now includes more than 2,000 patents," said Paul Reidy, vice president of semiconductor licensing at Intellectual Ventures. "Some of the recently issued patents detail some of the most interesting breakthroughs in microprocessor architecture we've seen in the last decade or so," he added in a press statement. Transmeta had generated royalty revenues of about $300 million licensing its patents on areas such as low-power processors and code translation to chip makers including Intel Corp. Novafora did not indicate what role the patent transaction played in its purchase of Transmeta. "The addition of Transmeta's power management technology to our video processor will enable us to target Novafora's products to the broadest range of video-oriented devices," said Zaki Rakib, chief executive of Novafora. In November, Novafora announced it entered into a non-exclusive patent license agreement with Advanced Micro Devices. Under the terms of the agreement, AMD transferred to Transmeta 700,000 shares of Transmeta's Series B Preferred Stock held by AMD.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Incredible Books from '40-'50's, part 3 of 3

Innocent, professionally written, non-globalist and classic reading from the cozy 1950's SCIENCE IN OUR LIVES Ritchie Calder. An exciting, factual story of the beginning and development of modern science, the relationship between its special fields -astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology -and its impact upon our daily lives. THE HANDY BOOK OF GARDENING Albert Ii. Wilkinson and Victor A. Tiedjens. New edition of the famous book on how to grow flowers and vegetables, fruits and house plants, care for lawns, and do landscaping. Comprehensive, illustrated. FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS Anyone Can Do Anywhere Matilda Rogers. Enjoy a fascinating new hobby which develops your creative talents and beautifies your home. A practical course in flower arranging, with 100 illustrations. LIVES OF DESTINY As Told For The Reader's Digest Donald Culross Peattie. Inspiring life stories of 24 men who overcame enormous obstacles to achieve a place among the world's great figures: Franklin, Voltaire, Marco Polo, Mozart,da Vinci, Darwin, and other patriots, naturalists, explorers, and artists. THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Stefan Lorant. A unique text and picture biography which unfolds the dramatic life history of a great and beloved American President, with hundreds of illustrations and a lively, illuminating text by a celebrated Lincoln scholar. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: The First Mr. American Roger Burlingame. A brilliant biography of the most human of leaders, who achieved fame and wealth as an editor, scientist, diplomat and statesman during the founding days of the U. S. GANDHI: His Life and Message for the World Louis Fischer. The life story of one of the greatest inspirational and political leaders of our time gives insight into India's pivotal place in world affairs. HOW THE GREAT RELIGIONS BEGAN Joseph Gaer. An always timely, easy-to-read guide to man's unending quest for the spiritual, vividly told through the lives of the world's religious leaders: Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, Lao-Tse and others. THE UNITED NATIONS and How It Works David Cushman Coyle. A stimulating, thoughtful and objective analysis of how the United Nations, related agencies and commissions, came into being; how they operate, and what they are doing to achieve lasting peace and better living conditions all over the world.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How IP will become a major influence in acquisition and merger deals

From the 15 December issue of the National Law Journal, page 3: More than half of corporate and private equity executives believe that intellectual property will become a more important factor in mergers and acquisitions deals during the next five years, according to a new survey from deal-ranking company, the Mergermarket Group. Eighty-five percent of corporate respondents and 72% of private equity respondents to the survey also said a target company's intellectual property assets had importance equal to or greater than other corporate assets when M&A deals were on the table. K&L Gates and Boston-based consulting firm CRA International sponsored the survey. Given the global increase in patents and trademarks, it's not surprising that intellectual property is becoming a more important factor in M&A deals, said George Dickos, a Pittsburgh lawyer and co-ordinator of K&L Gates' intellectual property practices.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How trashy are Apple's iPhone Patents?

Very excrement-like, since they didn't ask me to do the patentability searches :-) But more seriously, the February 9th issue of Barrons has an article on Apple's iPhone patents, with Apple COO Tim Cook quoting as stating that Apple won't stand for having its IP ripped off (with hints that the intended target is Palm, though Apple doesn't mind ripping off inventors). However the same article quotes San Francisco investment analyst Pablo Perez-Fernandez as raising doubts about the strength of Apple's iPhone patent portfolio, much of which focuses on touchscreen technology:
He asserts that the U.S. Patent Office "may have not observed the requirements of innovation on number of occasions", that the legal owner of key multi-touch technologies may be the University of Delaware, and that "the essential discoveries embedded in Apple's products were the result of the work of academics from the university now employed at Apple."
He goes on:
Apple didn't invent transparent, capacitive multitouch sensors that could be overlaid on screens; "that honor went to ATT's famous Bell Laboratories back in the mid-1980s."
His conclusion: while Apple's patents are probably infringed by competitors, the competitors could strike back on invalidity grounds. And I suspect he is right. Despite all of the bull's shirt from the big companies that complain about crappy patents that issue, they are all notorious for routinely submitting crappy patents with inadequate prior art references.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How electronic medical records will become another mini-bubble

One component of Obama's recovery plan is to pour billions into electronic medical records. There are already tons of patents in this field, and lots of venture capital. But Forbes editor Lee Gomes, in the 12 January edition of Forbes, page 43, argues that doing so might make medicine more inefficient, i.e., more costly. "But the notion they're a panacea is a symptom of the fixation with high-tech gadgets that's part of the (healthcare) problem in the first place." Sounds like the PTO - fixing engineering management at the PTO is not a tech problem.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More on WordLogic and The Second of Nine Sisters

WordLogic could vigorously pursue an Olympic-sized pool of legal targets, all of whom will be swimming in litigation. For this very reason, WordLogic has intentionally forestalled litigation against the other offenders until a second, "sister patent" is formally granted. Cumulatively, the Company has nine IP's: There's the one patent that's already been approved, and eight patents that are still pending. Patent pending number two is a close sister patent to the one already granted. Evanshen said it's also for a classical deep-search, content-seeking, predictive, algorithm-based software technology for advanced word recognition - except this one's supercharged. That makes it a powerful playing piece, one that both strengthens and broadens the overall coverage of Company's intellectual property - and therefore its suit against Mercedes-Benz. Technically, in its current state of legal flux, the sister patent is still pending - but it's pending fast! Let me explain: In reviewing the online application - which is the right of the patent applicant - Evanshen told me last week that activity in the file's movement within the U.S. Patent Office suggested that "approval was imminent". He was correct. As part of Tuesday's news release, the Company was able to announce, "The United States Patent and Trademark Office has put WordLogic's second patent pending in a position of allowance. The Company's patent attorneys have filed the necessary response required to have this second patent pending allowed. The Company considers this development significantly important, firstly as an additional asset increasing the value of the Company and secondly with regard to the importance it will have in settling this case. "I, as co-owner of Stewart/Abbott Medical and a U.S. patent that's now pending, all I can say is this: "Man, I sure hope we get a letter like that!" To be in a "position of allowance" means you're all but home, the deal is all but done and you're just waiting for the ink to dry. For WordLogic Corporation, it means: 1) The boundaries of the existing suit are about to extend favorably; and, 2) The case against Mercedes will be much easier to win. This does NOT mean WordLogic needs the sister patent to be victorious or that it needs a second trigger to fire the first gun. No, patent number two is simply extra ammunition to win the case. And I believe it will. And, when it does, defendants in all future cases will fall like dominos, the damage verdicts will become almost predictable and the courtrooms will pay off like casinos. There is a lot in the wind right now, and much of it could send this stock soaring to previously unseen heights. Regardless of the "End Game" and how it's played out, Evanshen is looking at a surprising number of opportunities. It's a fairly complex decision tree, but each of the potential decisions is incredibly lucrative - and virtually all of them could play nicely into the hands of stockholders. The momentum at this point is considerable. Within a month or three, I could easily see the stock returning to its 52-week high of $1.90. Longer term, an out-of-court settlement with Mercedes-Benz or a deep-pocket buyout offer from one of the Googles or Microsofts of the world would certainly put the stock back at its 60-week high of $4.30 - and even that could easily turn out to be the valuation understatement of 2009.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Incredible Books from '40-'50's, part 2

The continuation of the Incredible Books from 1940-1950's reading list: PATTERNS OF CULTURE Ruth Benedict. A famous anthropologist analyzes our social structure in relation to primitive cultures. SEX AND TEMPERAMENT in Three Primitive Societies Margaret Mead. Are personality differences, between men and women linked to their sex? A noted anthropologist explores this fascinating question. THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE Fred Hoyle. Can an atomic blast change the earth into an exploding star? Will our earth eventually die? The latest facts and theories about the universe are explained with clarity and liveliness by a modern astronomer. Illustrated. NEW HANDBOOK OF THE HEAVENS Hubert J. Bernhard, Dorothy A. Bennett and Hugh S. Rice. A practical, fascinating guide to the stars, planets and comets.. Profusely illustrated. ON UNDERSTANDING SCIENCE James B. Conant. A noted educator, diplomat and atomic physicist explains the scope of science in our modern world, and gives an historical view of its growth. MAN IN THE MODERN WORLD Julian Huxley. Thirteen stimulating essays on the vital issues of today, selected from his "Man Stands Alone" and "On Living in a Revolution."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How is billable hour on the way out?

The 12 January edition of Forbes, on page 26, has a full page opinion piece written by Evan Chester, presiding partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He basically argues that it is time to stop billing by the hour for legal services: "The lawyer should identify the client's objectives, measure, calculate and come back with a [fixed] price." Would this work in the patent world? (It's a rhetorical question :-)