Monday, January 23, 2012

A New Age in Patent Liquidity -- NYC 2/15 -- MIT Enterprise Forum Panel Session

This is a panel that should be very relevant to all entrepreneurs who have an interest in getting and monetizing patents, as well as those who work with them. "A New Age in Patent Liquidity: New Opportunities for Entrepreneurs," is presented by MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC.

I will be on the panel to present the perspective of an entrepreneur/inventor who has successfully navigated the Kafkaesque world of patents, which can be rewarding, but also hugely frustrating, costly, and risky.  I described some of the twists and turns of my adventures in a 2008 blog post "'The Six Phases of a Technology Flop' ...Patents, and Plan B." The theme was how I started seeking to build a software/services business, but also sought patents as a hedge to protect my investment -- a "Plan B." When the business failed to keep up with better-connected competitors with deeper pockets, I turned to the patents to try to capture value for my innovations.  Working with partners who brought the expertise and funding needed to do that, and eventually to undertake a patent suit, I went part way through infringement cases against Microsoft and Apple.  Some additional background on that is in last year's post that tells how Intellectual Ventures changed the game with a very creative, win-win deal.

I also expect to touch on my 2008 sale of another portfolio of patents to another very innovative company, RPX, as well as my ongoing work developing other patents.  I am pleased that Kevin Barhydt, VP, Head of Acquisitions for RPX (and formerly at IV) will also be on the panel.

From my perspective, IV, RPX, and others are making a real difference is offering inventors and other patent owners a way to monetize their IP for reasonable compensation -- in a market that is rational, and has a middle ground between "take a hike" and the nuclear option of litigation, with its huge costs in money, time, and disruption.

It is a pleasure to be a panelist and organizer for this event, especially given that I was the moderator and an organizer of MITEF's well-received 2000 panel session  "Patents for Dot-coms," which had an equally distinguished panel.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coactive TV -- The World of TV is getting there, and more is yet to come...

The kind of advanced "coactive" TV that I been promoting since 2002 is finally reaching the mainstream, but there is still much more to come.

As noted in a new page on the CoTV Web site, "Coactive TV: User-centered Convergence Today and Tomorrow:" 
The increasing prevalence of "media multitasking" (simultaneous use of TV and the Web) on laptops and smartphones began to change perceptions, and 2-screen ITV began to be seen as desirable in itself. Users were creating their own manual ITV experiences by finding relevant Web services on their own.  That set the stage for the emergence of CoTV 1.0, which was then kick-started by the iPad.  One indication of CoTV crossing the chasm into mainstream attention was the survey by Katherine Boehret of the influential Mossberg/Wall Street Journal/All Things D team on 12/20/11.

Another indication this is getting real was the number of announcements at CES. As reported by Bill Niemeyer in the 1/13 OTT Monitor from The Diffusion Group:
One key takeaway from CES that has floated above the noise pertains to Automated Content Recognition (ACR) for TV and video platforms. CES saw announcements from a number of ACR vendors including Audible Magic, Civolution, Gracenote, and Zeitera.
What is ACR? It's a variety of technologies that allow a device or service to recognize automatically a specific piece of content and synchronize to it within seconds. ACR can be based on audio/video watermarking or fingerprinting (i.e., cloud-based pattern matching used by mobile music app services like Shazam). Let your cell phone hear a brief bit of a song and Shazam will tell you what it is and even provide synchronized lyrics.
How can ACR be used in OTT [Over The Top]? It can synchronize interactive experiences for programs - whether viewed live or time-shifted - as well as advertising or e-commerce apps. Distinct from watermarking, which requires insertion in the content, fingerprinting can be done completely outside the realm of content providers, networks, and PayTV operators. That said, developing third-party synced apps without infringing on copyrights could be tricky.
With ACR, literally "the possibilities are endless" (to use a trite phrase). It's a powerful tool that needs to be put in the hands of creatives to realize fully its artistic potential, as well as clever business-side types to see how much "extended revenue" it can create.
But this is just the start. To look further into the future of advanced TV and video-based hypermedia, check out the section on "CoTV Tomorrow -- CoTV 2.0" on that new CoTV page.  A partial list of advanced features:

  • Selectable, Alternative "Enhancement Channels" 
  • Screen targeting
  • Flexible session-shifting
  • Link-and-pause (and sync bookmarks)
  • Full hypermedia browsing  
  • TV Context parameter/API
  • Full Coactive Internet commerce and advertising
  • Third-party linking rights/fees