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Asia’s patent funds – who they are, what they do

IAM has previously reported on the growth of patent funds in Asia, but here we present an updated look at what we have been able to find out about the marketplace today. Although there are only a handful operating in the region, the sheer variety of structures, backers and overall mission statements indicate that governments and private entities are heavily invested in making the funds viable. Given that, we will probably see more emerge in the coming months.

SOUTH KOREA 

Fund name: IP Cube Partners

Location: Seoul

Backers: Public-private partnership; set up by the Korean Intellectual Property office with unconfirmed private backers; total of 24,500,000,000 KRW investment from all parties -government, domestic conglomerates and financial institutions.

Principle aims: Spur investment in patents and protect Korean companies from patent trolls.

Date established: February 2010

Level of activity: Published patents throughout 2012; some acquisitions such as the deal below.

Known deals: December 2012; bought two US patents from TeleCommunication Systems for estimated seven-figure amount. The patents involve the use of a stylus for navigating a map application on a hand-held device, such as a personal digital assistant or smartphone.

Fund name: Intellectual Discovery

Location: Seoul

Backers: Public-private partnership; major backers include Samsung, Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology, LG, Posco, SK Hynix, KT; total government capital commitment estimated at $140 million.

Principle aims: To protect Korean companies from patent trolls, three main strategies: licensing programme seeks to shield and protect companies from international litigation, development programme seeks to identify patents that will be key to industries in near-future and develop them “helping SMEs”, venturing programme supports start-ups and technology transfer/access.

Date established: September 2010

Level of activity: Active in raising funds and building commercialisation side, with affiliated companies ID Ventures (venture capital) and Idea Bridge (asset management company) helping secure patents from different sources.

Known deals: has accumulated over 1,000 patents, with over 200 US patents; no confirmed information on recent deals.

CHINA

Fund name: IP Bank-China

Location: China

Backers: The Infinity Group created by the IDB Group and China Development Bank.

Principle aims: Acquiring companies, brands, and intellectual property for licensing and commercialisation in China.

Date established: 14th September 2010

Level of activity: Sector-oriented focusing on clean tech, medical, material and high-end manufacturing technologies.

Known deals: Unknown

Fund name: Tianjin Binhai International IP Exchange

Location: Tianjin, China

Backers: Set up by Northern Technology Exchange Market, Tinanjin IPR Service Centre, Beijing Xinzhengtai Investment and Singapore Zhongding Shengshi International Investment.

Principle aims: To develop new types of IP transactions; accelerate the exploitation of applied research and provide smaller companies with cheaper access to technology transfer; encourage the transfer of innovation from the state sector to private ownership.

Date established: 11th June 2011

Level of activity: Three operational approaches: direct purchase and selling of IP, trade of stocks of companies with IP assets, and trade of financial products based on IP.

Known deals: Unknown

Fund name: Zhi Gu

Location: Beijing, China

Backers: Private

Principle aims: To create a platform that can acquire innovations and patents effectively; provide a comprehensive service through the IP life cycle from valuation to monetisation; help Chinese companies when they expand their businesses internationally; value maximisation by creating a market environment that facilitates turning innovations into products.

Date established: August 2012

Level of activity: Unknown

Known deals: Unknown

TAIWAN

Fund name: Taiwan Medtech Fund

Location: Taiwan

Backers: 20% from the government, 20% from semi- public companies and public banks, and 60% from private companies

Principle aims: To strengthen Taiwan’s biomedical industry and to create leading companies at an international level. Invest in biomedical companies, in particular spin-offs and start-ups

Date established: 16th August 2011

Level of activity: Unknown

Known deals: Unknown

NOTE: Some Chinese language reports on Google indicate that the fund did not actually go ahead as it was not able to raise the required capital. These reports are not confirmed, however.

Fund Name: IP Bank-Taiwan (Intellectual Property Innovation Corporation)

Location: Hsinchu, Taiwan

Backers: an initial investment made by ITRI to set up the management entity, with additional funds raised from the private sector.

Principle aims: To assist Taiwanese companies in maximising the value of their patents and enhancing overall global competitiveness. There are three funds that together formed the IP Fund Company:

i. Counterclaim fund: Helping domestic companies when they face IPR infringement accusations in patent litigation overseas.

ii. Deployment fund: Acquiring and managing strategic patents for potential sectors to prevent major international companies from holding critical patent technologies.

Iii. Virtual fund: Used by R&D institutes in their patent procurement programmes.

Date established: November 2011

Level of activity: Unknown

Known deals: Unknown

JAPAN

Fund Name: Unnamed fund, managed by IP Bridge

Location: Tokyo

Backers: The Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (govt), Panasonic, Mitsui & Co for total initial investment of 3 billion yen ($30 million), rising to a possible 30 billion yen in the future.

Principle aims: Buying up dormant patents held by Japanese corporations and licensing them out to other domestic companies. Also focusing on acquiring consumer electronics patents and ultimately aimed at commercialising unused IP assets, as well as delivering returns to its investors.

Date established: July 2013

Level of activity: Unknown

Known deals: Unknown

These are the funds operating in Asia that we have been able to identify. There may be others that we do not yet know about. If anyone has any information on other funds please let us know. We will keep looking too and will aim to update the list above periodically.


Seher Hussain
IAM Magazine
23 August 2013

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IP management, Licensing, IP litigation, Patents, IP business, IP finance

Comments

RE: Asia’s patent funds – who they are, what they do

ITRI is the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan. They have had a IP Business and New Venture department for some years to out-license and spin out new businesses to foster high tech business growth. The Intellectual Property Innovation Corporation is an outgrowth from there.

Bruce A Story, ipCapital Group Inc on 23 Aug 2013 @ 17:30

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