Dominion Harbor has bought a portfolio of almost 1,000 former American Express patents from Intellectual Ventures in the latest major deal between the two. The transaction follows a deal involving more than 1,200 former NEC assets which was announced last month and last year’s acquisition by Dominion of around 4,000 former Kodak patents.
IV has ramped up its sales over the last year and announced in April last year that it was stopping buying new assets for its third patent fund. As it has focused on slimming down its portfolio, Dominion has become its best customer buying more than 6,000 assets in these three large deals and a series of smaller transactions.
The AmEx assets relate to a range of technological innovations including contactless payments, authentication and identity management and fraud detection. Although the terms of the deal were not made public it is understood to be structured along the same lines as the previous deals with an upfront payment and further back-end payments to IV once Dominion starts to monetise the portfolio.
IV’s sell-off has helped inject some life into the patent deals market but according to Dominion CEO David Pridham and strategy chief Tom Hochstatter there is also growing interest among operating companies in disposing of assets or turning to a third party to help monetise them. “We’re seeing global brands coming to us with thousands of assets which they’re looking to monetise,” Hochstatter commented to the IAM blog after the announcement of the NEC deal. “They have held back because of the patent storm in the US but now they can’t wait any longer.”
There are also some signs, according to Pridham, that that patent storm is abating. He pointed to some glimmers of hope for patent owners in the US market including the appointment of Andrei Iancu as director of the USPTO. “He’s a strong pro-patent guy,” Pridham insisted. “Every indication I’ve had is that he’s going to be better than the previous director.”
As Dominion continues to look for opportunities, another test of the current health of the patent deals market has come with the announcement that Provenance Asset Group, the monetisation vehicle founded by Dan McCurdy, Tim Lynch and Laura Quatela, has put its first batch of patents up for sale. Provenance was formed last year with the acquisition of a portfolio of more than 12,000 patents from Nokia.
As McCurdy told this blog at the time, their strategy is to offer the highest quality patents in the portfolio for license to operating companies as a means of defence from competitor lawsuits and then to put the rest of the patents up for sale. With IV continuing its sell-off, the Provenance offering shows there’s certainly no shortage of supply as buyers cast around for assets.