Google to Hold Patent Purchase Program Next Month

For a two-week period in May, patent owners will have an opportunity to pitch their intellectual property to Google.

Google purchase patents

Patent owners will have a brief window of opportunity to sell their intellectual property to Google next month.

From May 8 to 22, the Internet search giant will accept queries from patent holders willing to sell their patents to Google at a price they set themselves. Google will consider the patents and let submitters know before the end of June if the company is interested in purchasing their IP.

All payments for patents purchased by the company will be completed by August, Allen Lo Google's deputy general counsel for patents announced Monday.

Lo described Google's Patent Purchase Promotion as an experimental program for outflanking patent trolls. Patent owners often sell patents in order to raise money, to accommodate changes in a company's business direction or for various other reasons, Lo said.

"Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls," he said.

According to Lo, Google's Patent Purchase Promotion initiative will give sellers a streamlined portal for telling Google about their invention and the price they expect to get for it.

The program is part of an ongoing effort by the company to improve the patent landscape, Google said in a separate FAQ on the program. Google has not yet decided how much it will spend on purchasing patents under the program, but a lot will depend on the interest it receives and the type of patents submitted.

"We hope that by removing some of the friction that exists in the secondary market for patents, this program might yield better, more immediate results for patent owners versus partnering with non-­practicing entities," the company noted.

If Google is interested in a patent, the company will do some additional diligence with the patent holder, and if everything checks out, will look to close the transaction in short order, Lo said. Google expects to pay for all patent purchases by late August, he added.

The patent program is purely experimental for the moment and is an attempt by Google to gauge market interest in the idea. If there is sufficient interest, Google will see how it can improve on the program, the company noted in its FAQ.

Any patent owner, or individual working on behalf of a patent owner, can participate in the program. However, they need to have a U.S. tax number or provide the appropriate tax withholding information, for example, a W-9 form for U.S.-based companies or a W-8BEN-E form for foreign entities.

All patents purchased under the program will become part of Google's patent portfolio but sellers will retain a license back to their patent.

Google currently holds tens of thousands of patents and is one of the leading patent owners in the technology industry. In 2013 alone, the company acquired nearly 2,000 patents. It has a track record of obtaining nearly 10 new patents every single day the patent office is open, according to the MIT Technology Review.

Much of Google's voracious appetite for patents stems from the need for the company to protect Android and other technology platforms from legal claims by patent owners, the Review noted

"Each year, Google has won, on average, twice as many patents as the year before," MIT Technology Review has previously noted. "That pace of growth appears to be both faster and more sustained than that of any other large company," including IBM, Microsoft and Apple.

A Google spokeswoman said there are no restrictions on technologies or fields in terms of submissions.

In response to a question seeking information on the number of patents Google currently holds, the spokeswoman said the company cannot comment on those details.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.