The Future of Patent Wars: More of the Same, but Less Litigation, Says John Amster of RPX

5/3/10Follow @gthuang

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with us. It’s about risk mitigation, and it’s a lot easier to do if you have scale.

That’s been terrific, but we’re also doing more creative things with our customers. We’re working on a variety of insurance things; we also have been successful in doing syndicated buys. The position we’re in as a market participant with these clients and [having] a good trusted relationship with them, we can use those relationships to get things done, whether it’s acquisitions or other things.

X: What are the most interesting trends you see in the patent marketplace, especially as relates to the Pacific Northwest (and IP-heavy companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Intellectual Ventures)?

JA: From our perspective, there are no real trends in the deal flow. We see 50+ deals a month. There’s not a trend of, say, more handsets or touchscreens. It really varies. From our perspective—what’s of concern to our clients—we’re 100 percent not going to buy something on medical devices; but handsets, or features in PCs or TVs, we will.

A lot of the software patents seem to be related to things like security and e-commerce, secure transactions. Occasionally databases, or things that might arguably relate to social networks or targeting product offerings on an e-commerce site based on buying patterns. Hardcore software stuff we don’t see all that often, but some [digital rights management].

For a macro comment on the Northwest, I’d say NPE litigation and patent issues are always a hot topic. People complain quite a bit about them. People tend to look for a silver bullet—legislation, or a Supreme Court case. The trend to look for is, the more things change, the more they’re going to stay the same. There will be unintended and opposite changes in that regard. The vast majority of transactions involve litigation. Well over 1,000 companies were impacted by it last year alone. But it’s an anomaly that it’s all litigation-based. People think of that as the norm, but we’re about a market-based way to do it.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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