I first met Eric Stasik some 5 years ago when I was at Vringo. When we first met, it took no more than 10 minutes to appreciate how lucky I was to have him on my team. Eric has an uncanny ability to, very quickly, see through can’t and cut to the core issues at hand. More importantly, he finds solutions. Eric gets stuff done quickly, effectively, and cost efficiently. Having seen him at work in the years since, my appreciation of Eric and what he brings to the table has only deepened.
Eric currently provides assistance and guidance to firms engaged in commercial patent license negotiations through his consultancy, Avvika AB. I am honored he agreed to this interview.
1. What do you think are the two or three most important skills you bring to patent license/monetization and where and how did you acquire them?
My most important skill is my ability to quickly grasp complex technical ideas which I acquired early in my career as a microwave design engineer. Technical comprehension is the foundation of patent valuation. Along the way I have augmented this ability with some basic business and accounting skills, as well as some legal knowledge and other things I learned from reading books. Having lived abroad for most of my adult life, I have a keen sense of cultural awareness — in particular my own — which makes it easier for me to deal with diverse situations.
2. What are the two biggest challenges facing patent owners seeking to monetize their patents today?
Patent hold-out/efficient infringement and the legal and legal/regulatory environment that encourages this. This challenge is so large that it’s hard for me to see any of the others.
3. What is the next big technology that will be the subject of monetization attempts and why?
I think patent monetization follows market competition and so I would look at new industries (such as applications of AI) where companies are currently seeking to establish a foothold or old industries (such as aircraft and automobiles) where patents haven’t traditionally provided much in terms of competitive advantage.
I think once China enters the global automobile market in a big way with Chinese-designed, branded, and manufactured automobiles, we’ll see all six episodes of ”Car Wars” as the Incumbent Empire of Toyota, Hyundai, and Ford seek to defend their lost market share by asserting their own patents.
4. What excites you about patent monetization today?
Excites is too strong of a word. Off-piste skiing excites me; Patent monetization only interests me. I find the many challenges of a rapidly evolving legal, regulatory, and business landscape and the bespoke nature of the work (no two projects are the same) fit well into my problem-solving, engineering mindset. In the licensing business, I get to work with and against really clever and highly competent people from whom I always learn something new. It’s never a dull day at the office.
5. What advice would you give inventors?
Early in my career, I was focused on answering the question ”Can you get a patent on this?” As my career matured, I came to understand that the more important question for inventors is ”What will you do with a patent on this?” I think inventors need to have a business strategy for patents before they spend any money on acquiring patents.
6. What are you seeing in the secondary market for patents?
An interest in high returns coupled with an aversion to risk manifested in the desire to acquire ”litigation grade” patents, but at prices one would pay for completely untested patents. You don’t buy a Triple Crown winner for the price of a plough horse and the likelihood of finding a champion from any stable of horses who have never run a race is exceedingly unlikely.
Investing in patents is more like gambling than hedge fund management and I think the challenge for patent brokers is to manage expectations.
7. What makes a convincing claim chart?
Simplicity and clarity.
8. What do you think will happen with China as it relates to IP in the next five years?
I think China’s efforts to strengthen domestic patent rights is the right thing to do – especially when everyone else seems to be going the other way. Despite the shrill (and often not untrue) accusations of intellectual property ”theft” routinely hurled at China, copying Western intellectual property systems and not the innovations those systems protect is obviously China’s ultimate goal. In the short term, there will be opportunities for foreign patent owners to take advantage of China’s increasingly robust intellectual property protection, but in the long term, it will be Chinese patent holders who will claim the lion’s share of patents on new innovations.
9. Franchise or Property … discuss.
From my layman’s point-of-view, intangible property and real property are not the same thing and ”property” analogies between the two are mostly strained. If the boundaries of a patent claim could be defined as well as the boundary line of a plot of land, IP would be a much simpler job. From an economic perspective, physical property is a rivalrous asset (where physical possession means everything) and IP assets are non-rivalrous which makes IP a fundamentally different sort of animal altogether.
I am OK with the idea that ”what the patent office giveth the patent office can taketh away”, but I don’t like the situation we have today where large multinationals can combine resources to attack the patents of individual patent owners – often small and medium-sized enterprises. This can never be a fair fight and I think the patent office does an enormous disservice to inventors by allowing third parties to operate in this way. The patent office should exist to help inventors.
Connect with Eric here.
David L. Cohen, Esq.
David L. Cohen, P.C. – Kidon IP
123 West 93rd Street
New York, NY 10025