Solid not spectacular at the latest Ocean Tomo auction 25 Oct 07
I have just come back from Ocean Tomo’s autumn patent auction, held today (Thursday) in Chicago. From my back of the catalogue calculations it looks like the event raised $10,010,000. If this is the case, I believe it is slightly less than the amount raised at the last OT auction in the US. Although I did not record the exact amount at the time, my memory tells me that the April event saw $10 million plus a few hundred thousand generated. However, there does seem to have been more sales this time around: Jim Malackowski, Ocean Tomo's CEO, said afterwards that around half the lots were sold and half of the sellers offloaded their patents.
The best way to describe today is that it was a solid performance. Having spoken to some of the OT people beforehand, I think they may be a little disappointed with the way things panned out – I got the feeling they were expecting to generate more cash than they did last time and to see more on-floor bidding. In fact, many lots went to absentees, with no hands raised in the room; while quite a few others failed to meet their reserve prices and so were withdrawn. For example, the final lot – number 54 – did see some action and the closing bid was over $2 million, but this was not enough for a sale. A number of other lots only just failed to hit their reserves. The guess has to be, therefore, that there will be plenty of post-auction negotiation and that the total amount generated when the final sums are done will move northwards by a few million. With Ocean Tomo getting 15% of the sale price from sellers and 10% from buyers, that will represent another tidy piece of work for the company and should revive the spirits of any employees who may have felt a little deflated at the auction's end. After all, it's not just about two hours under the lights - that is only part of the process. The aim is to create a transparent and liquid market for the sale of patent rights and, once again, that is what OT has managed to do.
For the record, there were a couple of $1 million plus sales. Lot 10 went for exactly $1 million to an absentee; lot 20 went for $1.75 million to – surprise, surprise – John Amster of Intellectual Ventures. This lot actually produced some of the most exciting bidding of the day; it looked at one stage that it might go for $350,000 then a rash of bids from the floor and the telephone pushed things up to the final total. Amster had a serious rival in the room, but I could not see who it was. Four other lots went for $500,000 or more. They were numbers: 8 ($650,000), 13, ($750,000), 14 ($500,000) and 17 ($540,000).
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