Friday, April 10, 2009

Silicon Valley woes create buyers' market for ideas

From MarketWatch:

Failed start-ups' patents flood the market; Blackstone makes an inquiry

When storm clouds started gathering over the U.S. economy last fall and the stock market's value began vanishing, many touted the strength of one of the least-sexiest of assets: intellectual property.

But in recent months the downturn has forced many Silicon Valley start-ups built on the bedrock of patents to fold, creating a flood of freshly-available, legally-protected ideas. That's created a buyers' market for intellectual property, drawing in a broad range of prospective investors interested in picking up the rights to anything from corporate data center technology to a method for sending ringtones to a mobile phone.

"IP is the new gold," said Martin Pichinson, whose firm Sherwood Partners LLC helps wind down failed start-ups and sell off their assets, including patents. Pichinson said he's now receiving four to five calls per week from investors looking to close a company down, compared to between one and two calls per week prior to the downturn.
Meanwhile, interest in orphaned patents coming onto the market has grown. "We are getting calls from everyone," Pichinson said, adding that a quality portfolio of patents can usually sell for between $800,000 and $1 million....MORE