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IP Salvages Liquidation

Creative Patent Claims Salvage Investments When a Financial Tsunami Liquidates Business : US Patent No. 6,039872(1999-2008)

If inventing is hard core science, developing your invention into sustainable intellectual property of some value is all of science, business and the art of seeing the unseen. Structuring your claims of the invention in a patent application is the art of going as far to the periphery of your invention as the patent examiner would possibly allow. A patent attorney drafts a patent application for a product that you demonstrate to him and his perception of the outer limits of your invention is defined by your perception of your invention. Except rarest of rare instances he is not an inventor. He may not be so adept in seeing the unseen beyond your vision, and your vision as a scientist is obviously focused at the center of your invention.

We saw in the preceding case study how a highly valuable intellectual property can be created with very small investment and within a SHORT period of time. When our Internet technology business got valued at $63 million, offers started coming. I was very much inclined to just sell out the business, principally because none of the promoters had any experience in high tech business. Just because we invented and developed the product did not mean we could successfully market the product. But my partners were flying high. Their investment climbing to almost a hundred times in less than two years blinded them from the fact that there could be so many factors that could dent the value of their business. Party time isn稚 the right time to talk an exit. I was desperate to sell; they were desperate to see the value keep climbing as was the Internet fever in those days. My voice did not find an audience.

It did not take much to find out that almost all major Internet company from Yahoo to MSN to the Ad Display companies were infringing the patent. Now after 6-7 years when my partners had given up any hope of recouping the losses here there was new hope of making some profits out of nowhere when a law firm confirmed that substantial recoveries are possible. It was all because of playing the IP game as expansively as the system allows.

Within months of the valuation report and our first meeting with the Wall Street biggies, a tsunami of sorts hit the Wall Street in late 2000 and the Stock Market crashed. The much hyped Internet bubble busted, and with it went down thousands of Internet ventures across the globe. We were not spared. There were no takers for Internet companies amongst the investors. We not only lost all the value but we did not have the cash to pull on long enough to survive the global crisis. The business ceased operation, but I kept pursuing the pending patent application.

The original invention was to display ads in a non-intrusive manner using the substrate areas of an application (the areas on top and bottom of a browser WINDOW that supports the tools, icons and links to support various user functions in the document area). See Patent. The idea was to have an ad window displayed on TOP area which did not come in the way of the userç—´ work area within the document and such ad display was cursor responsive, meaning it was displayed in an area where the user barely goes and if at all user goes to that area the ad disappears with movement of the cursor. We also developed a product based on this technology. At that time it was hardly conceivable that the Web programming capabilities would be so advanced that a cursor response ad display would be possible within the document page and still remain user friendly. But in any case while writing the patent I extended the application of the technology from being client installed program to a web delivered program that would enable a cursor responsive ad display in any html document.

The patent was allowed with all my claims intact and published on May 2, 2006. This was one of my inventions, in which I had single handedly developed the product, written the patent, filed it, and prosecuted the patent through the process of a rigorous examination by the United States Patent Office. I argued with examiner and fortunately got all my broad claims accepted.

It did not take much to find out that almost all major Internet company from Yahoo to MSN to the Ad Display companies were infringing the patent. Now after 6-7 years when my partners had given up any hope of recouping the losses here there was new hope of making some profits out of nowhere when a law firm confirmed that substantial recoveries are possible. It was all because of playing the IP game as expansively as the system allows.