A Comparison between Singleton and Portfolio Patent Valuation in Auction Mode of Patent Transaction
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Patents have become a direct source of revenue, apart from providing legal protections for inventions. A patent generates revenue in its patented form through licensing or sell-out. Three challenges confront this shift in use of patents as direct revenue generators especially in the context of patent sale. First, the challenge of estimating the price a patent fetches in a sale (referred as ‗patent value‘) remains scarcely addressed owing to the intangible nature of patents and lack of patent sale data in public domain. Secondly, the variations in price and the method used to estimate the price while selling a patent individually (called as a singleton) or in a group along with other patents (called as portfolio) are little understood. Thirdly, literature focus so far has been on the static dimensions of patent value determinants leaving scope for researching the time varying dynamic nature of potential value determinants. This thesis aims to systematically address the above challenges and research gaps through five specific research objectives pertaining to the following four aspects of patent sale: (1) Successful sale aspect of patent lots in an auction (Research objective 1) Research objective 1: To explore the determinants of successful sale of singletons and portfolios. (2) Selling strategy aspect of the sold patents (Research objective 2) Research objective 2: To characterize the singleton and portfolio patent lots successfully sold in an auction. (3) Time dynamic aspect of factors influencing price (Research objectives 3 & 4) Research objective 3: To investigate the effect of time dynamic nature of patent age on the selling prices of singletons and portfolios. Research objective 4: To understand the effect of time dynamic trend of technological importance (TI) and patent class trend on selling prices of singletons and portfolios. (4) Valuation aspect (Research objective 5) Research objective 5: To identify the determinants of selling prices of singletons and portfolios. In this thesis, we use a combination of patent bibliometric and market based approach to study various aspects of singleton and portfolio patent sale incorporating the time dynamic aspect. A set of US patents auctioned by an US auction firm, called Ocean Tomo, is used as sample. The sample was dominated by patents from Computer & Communication field. The research findings showed significant differences in the characteristics of sold and unsold lots both in the case of singletons and portfolios. Amongst the sold lots, singletons were found to include more novel (lesser patent backward citations) and technology specific (higher C&C technology scope) patents than the portfolios sold. Further investigation on the variation in selling prices fetched by singletons and portfolios showed portfolios fetching significantly higher prices than singletons at the lot level. Interestingly, at a granular level, the equation reversed with singletons showing significantly higher price compared to the average price per individual US patent member within the portfolio. Along the time dynamic aspect, the existence of an optimal age to sell patents for higher prices is evidenced especially in the case of singletons from C&C technology field. The optimal age was found to be around 10 year 2 months of age from grant of singletons. No such optimal age was identified for portfolios. The growth trend analysis of the forward citations (technological importance of patent) and the patent applications filed within the specific patent class of a patent (attractiveness of patent class) illustrated the significance of the patent class trend in explaining variation in selling price of singletons. Finally, the valuation models of singletons and portfolios showed singletons being valued more on the patent related characteristics unlike portfolios which were valued based on the all three aspects – patent, seller and bundling. In summary, the novelty of the thesis resides in the (1) incorporation of new set of variables namely forward citation diversity, forward citations trend, patent class trend, technology scope and portfolio type in understanding patent price (2) treatment of time dynamic variables in understanding patent value and (3) focus on portfolio analysis through independent analysis of singleton and portfolio selling prices.
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