WHAT'S NEXT FOR FORGENT? It would seem that after October 27, 2005, someone would have posted a website, ticking away the seconds before Forgent's US Patent 4,698,672 ("the JPEG patent") expires on October 27, 2006.
To date, this patent has produced a windfall for Forgent, bagging over $100 million in licensing fees for Forgent's coffers. But the party, for the most part, will end in 2006. Realizing this, Forgent has gone on a litigation binge, suing Apple, IBM, Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., TiVo Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Eastman Kodak Co., and many others (some 40 companies in all). Recently, RIM settled their patent dispute with Forgent over the JPEG patent.
But what happens on October 28, 2006? Forgent will undoubtedly milk the JPEG patent for a few more lawsuits, claiming past infringmement, but it is doubtful that they will be able to replicate the success they achieved with the '672 patent. Checking out their current portfolio published at the USPTO, it seems that they are banking on their DVR patents as their next source of revenue. These patents include:
US Patent 6,674,960
US Patent 6,480,584
US Patent 6,285,746
US Patent 6,181,784
Each of these patents are continuations that ultimately trace back to an application filed on May 21, 1991. Needless to say, the lawsuits have already started.
One thing that I noticed as odd was that Forgent continues to retain their outside counsel on contingency. Under their earlier arrangements, the law firms representing Forgent have taken 50% of collected revenues. Unde their new arrangement, outside counsel "only" take 43%. It makes me wonder what is preventing Forgent from turning to a conventional billing regime (i.e., billable hours).