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December 16, 2004

Today in the Patent Market...

Patent consultant Greg Aharonion claims, " [portfolio building] is becoming a business in the sense of products, markets, and supply and demand...it will attract new entrants, with consolidation, and winners and losers like any business."  Consider today's news:

1. Acacia Research Group announces it's intention to purchase a portfolio of an additional 27 patents covering technologies used in credit card receipt processing, peer-2-peer file sharing, spread-sheet processing.  Acacia is not a software manufacturer, it is a portfolio firm whose aggressive licensing program has become somewhat infamous in the past six months.

2. Sony and Samsung have signed a cross-licensing deal that will provide the companies with joint access to a portfolio of 24,000 patents.  Both companies claim that the deal will, "foster the uniqueness of each company and competition in the market."

3. Sprint and Nextel have proposed a merger that will leave only four competitors in the national mobile phone service industry.  At first blush, it looks like a recipe for disaster as the companies operate on distinct proprietary systems.  However, the merger may be a way-out for Nextel which operates on iDEN, a system that can not be upgraded to high-speed data services.  Speculation is that the combined firm, "Sprextel" may leap frog competitors in implementation of third generation technology.  Partnerless T-Mobile, which also operates on iDEN and has the smallest market share of the remaining firms, may find itself the biggest loser resulting from the transaction.  But, phone manufacturer, Motorola will also take a hit when it's exclusive license to sell iDEN phones suddenly becomes valueless.

4. Symantec has made a bid to acquire Veritas and create the fourth largest software company in the world.  The companies claim the merger is, "a means to remain competitive in a consolidating market."  Veritas is the market leader in data storage software, and Symantec is the market leader in security software.

5. First stop?  The first stop for everyone getting a new patent portfolio this holiday season may be the European Patent Office in Munich. The Council for the European Union has announced that it will pass the EU patent directive.  The broad language of the directive allows patenting of "computer-implemented inventions."  The announcement has caused some dissent from businesses in the United Kingdom, and has raise the rancor of Linux kernel creator, Linus Trovolds who warns that software patents are, "dangerous to the economy at large," and will serve to lock out smaller competitors and lead to a patent arms race "as is already the case in the United States."

Posted by Marjorie Sterne at 05:27 PM in Patents & Technology | Permalink

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Tracked on Dec 20, 2004 2:55:21 AM