As part of its effort to prevent good intellectual property from remaining in the hands of what it refers to as “patent trolls,” Google purchased 28% of the patents that were submitted during their three week program, Patent Purchase Promotion (PPP). This could lead to similar initiatives by other companies.
Google’s campaign against so-called patent trolls could simply be seen as a means to bring down the price of intellectual property. Trolls are described as parties who typically hold a portfolio of patents and use them to initiate legal actions against infringers, without actually producing or utilizing the patented idea.
By directly advertising to patent owners, Google was able to insert itself between the patent owners and other potential purchasers, some of whom may have been trolls. Operating companies made up 75% of the submissions to the PPP, which was Google’s target group for the program.
The prices for the patents submitted to the Google program were set by the patent owners, with the prices paid by Google ranging from $3,000 up to $250,000. Google received thousands of submissions with a median price of $150,000 and the highest submission price coming in at $3.5 billion.
The Supreme Court decision in the case of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l specified that software and other patents describing an abstract idea are ineligible for patent protection, a decision that Google supported. Following that decision, a majority of the patents that have been tried citing the Alice decision have been invalidated.
Groups like the Partnership for American Innovation (PAI) have opposed Google’s attitudes on intellectual property, and claim that it has mischaracterized the portion of the patent market that is made up of patent trolls.
Senior director Matt Moyers at Black Stone IP, a firm which specializes in patent litigation, characterized the program positively, “If Google prompts a trend where many operating companies are going to do something similar, it starts to create a real and true marketplace for patents.And that is what the industry desperately needs right now.”