One of my longest research projects has been centered on the market for ideas — the idea that innovators can sell their ideas to others rather than take them to markets themselves. The problem is that while conceptually something like a market for ideas sounds like a good idea where exactly it is has been a problem.
A few years ago, Scott Stern and I wrote a paper applying Al Roth’s market design principles to find the market for ideas. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t easy to find. While some organisations such as OceanTomo had tried to set up a market for trading patents they hadn’t been too successful. Then Intellectual Ventures tried an aggregator approach but that only led them down a path of being labelled as patent trolls. Andrei Hagiu and David Yoffie have a great review of this stuff.
Today, Google, as they are want to do, are trying something different. They have launched a Patent Purchase Promotion. It is a little dry so let me jazz it up a bit.
Hereyeah, hereyeah, step right up all you inventors, tinkers and innovators. Google, the large company that brought you search now wants to buy your research. There’s been no opportunity like it before and there may never be again.
This May is Patent Palooza. For just two weeks from May 8th to May 22nd this year, you can sell your patents to us. Just show us your wares and if we are interested, we’ll make you an offer. No mess, no fuss, no lawyers (Small print: we advise you to consult lawyers because we aren’t really looking out for you here).
This is a pretty interesting development. I really hope some entrepreneurial graduate student is getting on to this. The data as well as the internal Google decision process is going to be fascinating.