Yahoo: Our Patent Sale Is Not A Fire

Yahoo says its new subsidiary, built to auction its IP, is not a set fire sale. But what if a troll has all that precious fortune?

Last month, me solving possibilities that Yahoo could cause a rage of patent scams. I quoted the history of Starboard Value LP, the hedge fund that forced the Yahoo CEO to place four people on the company board: Starboard is known as a giddy advocate divestment or exploitation Intellectual property for quick return. And then I outlined how Yahoo, without being too ostentatious, engaged in a substantial patent sell-off over the past few years, a real IP sale with snoopers like Google, Snapchat and one mysterious number. British virgin island Entities leave with treasures. This week brought another turn. Yahoo admit that by April, it transferred more than 3,000 existing and pending patents to a wholly owned subsidiary called Excalibur – with the intention of going through a full auction. (“Excalibur, ”For those uneducated in Medieval lore, is the indestructible sword gifted to King Arthur by Lady in the Lake, who seems unrelated to CEO Marissa Mayer: Yahoo for me The name makes no sense.) This is a realization of one possibility that I have speculated in my column: Yahoo will not include its IP portfolio in the big sale of its core business. that it is possible to get more profits from a separate transaction. Of course, that discrete trade leaves the possibility that patents could fall into the hands of scammers who could force large and small companies – and possibly users – with lawsuits. chant harshly.

It’s not clear how the new Yahoo directors have to deal with this – the Starboard team doesn’t join the board until a few days after the new company was founded. And, as I noted, Yahoo sold some of its patents. But at least one person assumes that Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith (who appears to view patents as ATMs) is fostering this development.

Yahoo said Excalibur’s move was a result of concerns that contractors for the Yahoo franchise might not underestimate the patents in their calculations. The company only retains a handful of its patents (1,100 current and pending patents, compared with the more than 3,000 patents it is filing). Those retained, the company said, “power and grow our core business.”

But if there was a certain future for Yahoo, it would not have been conceivable that it would not build on the areas of the Excalibur portfolio’s patents: “search, advertising, and cloud technology. clouds ”. Non-core? Sounds more like corn. The portfolio includes specific patents from the purchase of Overture, the company that invented click-to-pay search advertising, before Google adopted that approach.

Even if the sold patents weren’t part of Yahoo’s current and future plans, the split and sale was a grim reminder that for the once-proud Internet giant, short-term revenue. outperformed the future. It is essential for a relevant force in the Internet world to have as wide a patent portfolio as possible, not too much to build new products or sue people, but to protect the company. before lawsuits from major competitors. That’s why Google bought Motorola for $ 12 billion and why Microsoft paid Rockstar billions. These companies usually do not make patent claims against each other, because the defendant can object and accuse you of using. that is license of invention.

When I spoke to Yahoo’s head of intellectual property, Kevin Kramer, he was adamant that the Excalibur auction should not be considered a fire sale. While he spoke on the platform, he later issued a statement that accurately reflects his comment in the conversation:

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