Google announced an experiment it says will “remove friction from the patent market and improve the landscape.” The experiment, called the Patent Purchase Promotion, will run from May 8 through May 22, 2015. In it, the Program offers a way for patent holders to tell Google about patents they are willing to sell.
From the Program:
Question: Why is Google doing this?
Answer: We view this as an experiment. We are looking for ways to help improve the patent landscape, and we hope that by removing some of the friction that exists in the secondary market for patents, this program might yield better, more immediate results for patent owners versus partnering with nonpracticing entities.
Question: How much money is Google going to spend? How many patents is Google going to buy?
Answer: We don’t know yet. It will really be a function of how much interest we receive and the type of patents that are submitted.
Question: What does Google intend to do with the patents it purchases?
Answer: Google maintains a large patent portfolio. Any patents purchased by Google through this program will join our portfolio and can be used by Google in all the normal ways that patents can be used (e.g., we can license them to others, etc.).
Question: If Google ends up buying my patent, can I still practice the invention?
Answer: Yes. As part of our Patent Acquisition Agreement (see section 4.4), sellers will retain a license back to their patent. For you lawyers out there, the license is “irrevocable, nonexclusive, nontransferable, nonassignable (including by operation of law or otherwise), nonsublicensable, worldwide, [and] fully paidup.”
So, is it worth submitting an offer to see to Google? I guess it comes down to whether or not the patent holder is able to price the technology right. If you are not actively engaged in licensing your patent, I see no downside other than you will need to price your technology right. Too high a price may get you cut you from the running while too low a price could mean you lose out on the true price of the technology.
I am guessing that they are trolling for bargains from people that do not know better but I could be wrong. However, a quick look at the submission form shows some insight into Google’s thinking. Under price, the options provide for checkboxes with ridiculously low prices. At $10-25K, you wouldn’t even be breaking even on patenting costs with most patents, let alone make a buck. As I said, you can always submit with little downside as long as you are OK with the price you set if they were to accept. Plus, it seems you could always submit outside the “experimental” program using the Patent Opportunity Submission Portal.