Press Release: In Wake of Case IV Thicket, IP Checkups Announces Plans to Crowdsource Public Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) Tracker

BERKELEY, Calif., December 03, 2012 – IP Checkups, a boutique patent analytics firm, launched Case IV Thicket last month, an Indiegogo crowdfunded project designed to expose Intellectual Ventures’ hidden patent portfolio and make it freely available to the public. Funding for the project closed last week at $13,580 – short of the $80,000 fundraising goal.

Despite this setback, Case IV Thicket has received an immense outpouring of support from IP stakeholders, academics, and media outlets alike (see articles in the WSJ, VentureBeat, and CNET). Because of this public support, IP Checkups has decided to proceed with a modified version of the Case IV Thicket project.

“After listening to feedback from our crowdfunding efforts, we have decided to extend Case IV Thicket to track non-practicing entities in all forms. This includes patent assertion entities like Intellectual Ventures and Acacia, defensive patent aggregators like RPX, and research institutions like WARF and CSIRO,” said Matt Rappaport, founder and CEO of IP Checkups. “This online compendium of NPE patent holdings, called the NPE Tracker, will help stimulate a more efficient and transparent patent marketplace.”

“Though we did not reach our funding targets, members of the patent community have offered free research services to further our investigation into non practicing entities,” said Lily Li, director of marketing and business development at IP Checkups. “As a result, we can complete this project through engaging our own network of patent professionals, and by crowdsourcing business intelligence from the public.”

A beta version of the NPE tracker will be available online by the end of January and will feature the initial stages of IP Checkups’ research. The general public can contact IP Checkups at info(at)ipcheckups(dot)com, subject “NPE Tracker,” for updates on the project and ways to get involved.

About IP Checkups:

IP Checkups was founded in 2004 as a boutique patent analytics firm. The company offers custom patent portfolio and technology analysis to corporate clients, investors, research institutions, and universities. IP Checkups PatentCAM™ subscriptions combine custom intellectual asset management and patent search services with powerful web-based software solutions enabling companies to identify, analyze, manage, monitor and update patent information relevant to their technology and markets.

IP Checkups to Publish Intellectual Ventures’ Hidden Patent Portfolio

BERKELEY, Calif., October 15, 2012IP Checkups, Inc., a boutique patent analytics firm, today announced the launch of Case IV Thicket, an Indiegogo crowdfunded project designed to expose Intellectual Ventures’ hidden patent portfolio and make it freely available to the public. IP Checkups plans to release a free, online database of patents belonging to Intellectual Ventures and its shell companies. The database will be accompanied by a blog – the IV Thicket Case Files – in the style of a detective film noir, to follow IP Checkups’ research and discovery process into Intellectual Ventures’ patent portfolio.

Intellectual Ventures, among the largest patent holders in the United States, with an estimated 40,000 patents, actively and intentionally hides its portfolio in more than 1,200 shell companies. This eliminates transparency and increases Intellectual Venture’s leverage with potential licensees. Even though worldwide patent offices record patent ownership, they do not record financial ownership in the shell companies. Intellectual Ventures develops and buys patents in bulk, and then makes money from these patents through various questionable schemes, including licensing, partnerships, and patent lawsuits filed by shell companies.

“The U.S. government grants limited monopoly rights to patent owners, and in return, requires disclosure of these inventions and records of ownership,” said Matt Rappaport, founder and CEO of IP Checkups. “The whole purpose of the patent system is to share this information with the general public to make them aware of new innovations, and encourage companies to license and trade patents to develop innovative products. When you hide patent ownership through obscure shell companies as Intellectual Ventures does, you negate the entire purpose of the patent system – the development of an open marketplace of ideas.”

Investors and companies will be able to freely access the Intellectual Ventures database to research licensing opportunities and patent infringement litigation risks for new products. They will then be able to decide to abandon their product or bear the high costs of an Intellectual Ventures license.

“Indiegogo is the perfect venue for Case IV Thicket because the threat of patent litigation affects all startups and inventors,” said Lily Li, patent strategist at IP Checkups. “Our database and blog will help real innovators learn about the patent system and assess its risks.”

About IP Checkups:

IP Checkups was founded in 2004 as a boutique patent analytics firm. The company offers custom patent portfolio and technology analysis to corporate clients, investors, research institutions, and universities. IP Checkups PatentCAM™ subscriptions combine custom intellectual asset management and patent search services with powerful web-based software solutions enabling companies to identify, analyze, manage, monitor and update patent information relevant to their technology and markets.

Press Release: IP Checkups Launches CleanTech PatentEdge, the First Online Cleantech Patent Database

BERKELEY, CA (September 12, 2012) – IP Checkups, a boutique patent analytics firm, today announced the launch of CleanTech PatentEdge, the only comprehensive online patent research database dedicated to addressing cleantech industry patent developments. The database filters more than 1.5 million worldwide patents in more than 150 cleantech market sectors and includes technologies as diverse as, but not limited to, ethanol biofuels, solar thin films, energy storage, and desalination. CleanTech PatentEdge allows users to avoid arduous patent searches and antiquated national patent databases by accessing information on cleantech patent data and trends through a simple, cost-effective interface.

Compare the growth of different cleantech market sectors.
Image A
Find the top companies in battery technology.
Image B

CleanTech PatentEdge combines its database of worldwide patent publications with an easy-to-use analytics portal. The analytics portal tracks the real-time progress of worldwide patent publications and grants and creates custom charts and tables from the data [See Images A & B]. As a result, various key end-users — such as investors, researchers, business development, licensing, product, and marketing managers— can have information on the latest technology and potential competitors at their fingertips. With CleanTech PatentEdge, users can easily identify and analyze green tech industry trends and competitors, rather than rely on traditional market reports that are obsolete within a few months.

“CleanTech PatentEdge addresses an unmet need in burgeoning green industries, such as renewable energy, which are growing at breakneck rates. There are daily innovations in solar, wind, and water technologies, to name just a few. CleanTech PatentEdge provides an otherwise unattainable view of an entire industry’s patent developments and competitive landscape in real-time, as patents are filed,” said Matt Rappaport, founder and CEO of IP Checkups.

Who can benefit from CleanTech PatentEdge?

* Product and marketing executives will be well-informed on competitive product offerings and can use this information to better position their own product rollouts.

* Business development executives can find companies with strong patent portfolios and innovative research for strategic partnerships and acquisitions.

* Investors can seek opportunities in high-growth cleantech sectors or conduct patent due-diligence on their portfolio companies.

* Market research firms can study cleantech patent trends over time, compare technology sectors, and research individual companies.

CleanTech PatentEdge annual subscriptions begin at $180/month for individual users, and $450/month for 3-5 users. Month-to-month plans, corporate and educational rates are also available.

For more information, please visit http://www.cleantechpatentedge.com/ or check out the introductory video at https://vimeo.com/49188559.

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About IP Checkups

IP Checkups was founded in 2004 as a boutique patent analytics firm. The company offers custom patent portfolio and technology analysis to corporate clients, investors, research institutions, and universities. IP Checkups combines custom intellectual asset management and patent search services with powerful web-based software solutions enabling companies to identify, analyze, manage, monitor and update patent information relevant to their technology and markets. Check out the CleanTech PatentEdge blog <http://www.cleantechpatentedge.com/blog> for latest patent publications, industry news, and cleantech events.

Recent Trends in Graphene Innovation

Energy of electrons in graphene

Heralded as a “revolutionary material” with “outstanding physical properties,” graphene emerged at the forefront of materials science in 2004, when researchers at the University of Manchester used Scotch tape to peel this single layer of interconnected carbon atoms from a graphite flake. The simplicity and affordability of the “Scotch tape method” sparked an immense amount of scientific interest, and graphene research took off at an explosive rate (see chart below).

A two-dimensional allotrope of carbon with a honeycomb lattice structure, graphene is the world’s thinnest and strongest material. It also has the greatest charge-carrying ability of any known substance—at least at room temperature—and is widely considered to be the next game-changer of the electronics industry.

Given that game-changing technologies tend to be incredibly lucrative, it is perhaps unsurprising that graphene-related patenting has increased substantially in recent years. Mentioned at least once in only 229 patent applications filed worldwide in 2003, graphene was the primary focus of 508 patent applications filed in 2010—the last year for which complete filing records are available—and was mentioned at least once in an additional 1,208 applications.

Because graphene represents the basic structural unit of most solid forms of carbon—including fullerene, graphite, and carbon nanotubes—many of the patents that mention graphene are actually related to one of these other materials.  This is especially true in the case of carbon nanotube-related patents, as carbon nanotubes are often described as sheets of graphene that have been coiled into cylinders. Therefore, although graphene is the name of a basic structural unit found in many solid forms of carbon, two-dimensional graphene is also a material in its own right—and the current graphene-related hubbub is all about two-dimensional graphene.

Many of the top players in the electronics industry own patents related to two-dimensional graphene. Samsung, IBM, NEC, and Hitachi all rank among the top ten graphene patent assignees. A number of other large players, including General Electric, Sony, and Toshiba, are also active in graphene research–or, at the very least, active in acquiring the rights to graphene research.

Perhaps because graphene is a relatively emergent technology, however, universities own a surprising proportion of graphene-related patents. William Rice University, the University of California, and the University of Texas all rank among the top ten patent assignees in the two-dimensional graphene space, along with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, a government-sponsored research organization. Nine of the top 20 patent assignees in this space are either universities or public research institutions, accounting for close to 20% of all graphene-related patent documents.

The “Scotch tape method,” which can be referred to (more scientifically) as an exfoliation process, was the first straightforward means of producing graphene; however, over the past eight years, scientists have developed many other methods of graphene production. New exfoliation processes include solvent-mediated micromechanical cleavage and dry etching in an oxygen plasma“Unzipping” a carbon nanotube forms a “ribbon” of graphene, and a variety of  graphite oxide reduction methods exist in the scientific (and patent) literature.

Arguably, epitaxial growth may be the most commercially-viable method of graphene production currently available. Usually accomplished via chemical vapor deposition on substrates such as silicon carbide and certain metals (like iridium, copper, and nickel), the success of this method evokes the optimistic prediction that graphene may eventually replace silicon as a fundamental electronic material.

Research institutions are the chief innovators in graphene production, in both cutting-edge methodology (their usual purview) and overall patenting volume. Of the top five assignees in each graphene production method shown in the graph above, only slightly more than half are private-sector companies–large or small.

Many researchers—including the original Scotch tape duo, A.K. Geim and K.S. Novoselov—caution that it may be 20 years before graphene achieves its true potential. Nevertheless, with all of the neat graphene technologies already available on the market (like this heat-transferring paint) the next two decades are likely to be very exciting!

Patents for Startups: Opportunity, Necessity or Nuisance? An IP Checkups/ IPfolio Presentation.

Patents for Startups: Opportunity, Necessity or Nuisance?Join us for lunch, networking, and a lively panel!

Innovation drives economic growth in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Despite this truth, startups, university spinoffs and SMEs often have trouble capitalizing on their innovations through intellectual property. When faced with massive budget restraints and constantly-shifting market pressures, startups often relegate IP asset management to the back seat.

On September 26, 2012 IP Checkups and IPfolio will present a panel of industry experts to demystify the brave new patent world for startups. Join us for a lively debate on the pros and cons of pursuing alternative patent strategies, especially in the wake of the America Invents Act.

MODERATOR
Rupert Mayer, Founder & CEO, IPfolio Corporation

PANELISTS
Joe Beyers, Chairman & CEO, InventErgy LLC

Dr. Elvir Causevic, Managing Director & CTO, Ocean Tomo

Matthew Rappaport, Co-Founder & Managing Director, IP Checkups

Terence Spies, CTO, Voltage Security

This event is hosted in co-operation with the Licensing Executive Society’s Silicon Valley Chapter. Registration will open at the end of July on the LES website. Admission is $45 and includes lunch.

Online Registration Deadline: Monday, September 24, 12 PM
After September 24, contact James House, siliconvalleywriting@gmail.com