Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More on Article One Patent Project

Earlier the 271 Blog covered Article One's entry into the "patent bounty" space, where the company claimed to be something akin to a "Peer-to-Patent" project that compensated participants. While Article One's presence is heralded as something of a welcome addition, the company's operation appears to be more than a reheated "Bountyquest" effort.

In an earlier Forbes article, the following was written about the company:

The business model of Article One executes on the value of the research, which can be sold directly to parties interested in the subject patent, or used to execute market trades based upon expert opinions drawn from the research. This powerful, self-supporting revenue model provides for the significant bonuses of up to $50,000 for specific prior art found, and rewards the community through a powerful Profit Sharing Plan compensating all members who actively participate and build the Advisor community.
Thus, vetted prior art will not only be offered for sale to defendants, but to anyone (including Article One) looking to take a market position on the prior art information. Indeed, Article One's terms of use state the following:

Article One and our affiliates, officers, directors, and employees, including persons involved in the preparation or issuance of the material on our Site, may from time to time have "long‟ or "short‟ positions in, act as principal in, or buy or sell the securities (or derivatives thereof) of, the companies mentioned on the Site.
Clever stuff. You can sell invalidating art and short the company at the same time. A more recent Forbes article on Article One states the following:
Say a visitor sends Article One evidence (an article in an obscure academic journal, for example) that calls into question the validity of one of Pfizer's patents for cholesterol reducer Lipitor. Milone would make that information public on the site--and, at the same time, she could short the stock of Pfizer and go long on the stock of competitors eager to sell a generic version of Lipitor. In theory, she'd make a bundle once the industry finds out what she knows.

And if Milone doesn't see a way to make money on the markets using her newfound information? She could try selling the information to Pfizer directly--or to one of its competitors. "Our interest is first to monetize our research, to maintain our revenue stream," Milone says.
Time will tell how this business model will succeed.

In any event, another interesting tidbit about Article One is that one of the founders has a series of patents on file at the PTO that is best described as the polar opposite of Halliburton's "patent acquisition and assertion by a (non-inventor) first party against a second party" application. The title? "Method and System For Requesting Prior Art From the Public In Exchange For A Reward" (US Patent Pub. 20080270255). From the looks of the claims, the novelty appears to be directed to the "trading a financial instrument" and "realizing profit" from the information:
Claim 1. A method for providing a monetized value of information, said method comprising the steps of:

a) displaying on a computer network for access by a plurality of information providers, (i) an information request, and (ii) a description of compensation for at least one of said information providers who provides information responsive to said information request, wherein said compensation comprises a variable component;

b) receiving at least one response from at least one of said information providers;

c) reviewing said at least one response to form a conclusion, said conclusion comprising whether said information responsive to said information request has been provided;

d) executing a financial transaction, wherein said financial transaction comprises trading a financial instrument;

e) displaying said conclusion or information describing said conclusion on said computer network;

f) realizing profit from said financial transaction; and

g) determining and providing said compensation for said at least one of said information providers, wherein said variable component is determined based on said profit from said financial transaction, thereby providing said monetized value of said information.
Of course, there are plenty of Bilski issues to contend with, but that's another story . . .

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