Google's recent announcement of a 'patent purchase promotion' has attracted some interesting commentary from both the intellectual property industry as well as the broader business community. Referred to by Google as 'an experimental marketplace for patents that's simple, easy to use, and fast', the patent purchase promotion effectively offers US patent owners (or their legal representatives) the opportunity to sell their patent(s) to Google. There's a two week window within which those who wish to participate, and who are eligible to, can submit a proposal to Google. The submission period will run from 8 May through to 22 May. Authorised sellers/owners must be US companies or individuals that have a US tax ID, or foreign companies that can fill out a W-8BEN-E form.
Google states that '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 (eg, we can license them to others, etc)'.
Media reaction to this announcement has added to the ongoing debate surrounding patent trolls. Some commentators have argued that this is simply a pre-emptive move by Google to 'beat patent trolls to the punch'. Others have been more sanguine in their response.
Whether the program represents a good opportunity for potential sellers remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that if you are considering participating in it, then you should consult with a patent attorney at AJ Park to ensure you understand all the fine print and the consequences of selling your patent to Google.