A new exchange in Chicago that will publicly trade patent rights saw its first major activity on Wednesday, as Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG) marketed a portfolio of more than 600 patents to investors.
Intellectual Property Exchange International is the world’s first financial exchange trading in intellectual property rights, according to its website.
Philips’ portfolio, which the New York Times reports is worth about $35 million, will offer temporary rights to Philips' organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology.
Exchange CEO Gerard Pannekoek told the International Business Times that he expects two more offerings in the next four to six weeks, but declined to comment further on them. Boosting transparency and efficiency in the patent trade, which is usually characterized by heavy litigation and private deals, is his overarching goal.
“By basically applying an IPO model to the sale of patent rights, and making those available on the marketplace, we believe that we are going to address those two essential and critical aspects,” Pannekoek said.
The exchange will offer temporary and non-exclusive rights to the use of another firm’s intellectual property, in contracts with public terms vetted by the exchange.
The exchange boasts major corporate backers, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Sony Corporation of America (NYSE:SNE), and Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), aside from the support of prominent research universities. Founding members of the exchange, which include those companies, are listed here. Each has committed to listing patents on the exchange in the future.
But industry experts are skeptical of the need for the exchange, arguing the patent market may not be mature enough, according to the New York Times.
Pannekoek countered that he has seen “significant interest” from both buyers and sellers of patents to date, but conceded that there are also warier companies that will wait to see how the exchange does in coming months before making any moves.
“Anytime that you do something completely new … you’re going to have a lot of sensitive companies who want to wait until you have proof-of-concept,” said Pannekoek. “We have a large number of those sensitives.”
Pannekoek also set up the Chicago Climate Exchange in 2002, seeking a market which would reduce and trade greenhouse gas emissions, according to his company bio.
The patent exchange’s first offering comes after a mixed review from the Department of Justice, which said the exchange “potentially raises competitive concerns.” Although the department acknowledged that the exchange could substantially benefit the patent marketplace, it remained unsure whether concerns about fair competition would later emerge, and declined to state whether it would enforce antitrust laws in the future.
In a related development, President Barack Obama urged Congress to take action against so-called patent trolls on Tuesday.
Patent trolls are companies that attempt to steal patents by threatening frivolous lawsuits. Obama also laid down a handful of executive orders designed to make patent trolling more difficult.