Major patent holders to invest for startup equity

Patent advisory and transaction firm Aqua Licensing said it secured agreements with AT&T Corporation, Entegris Inc, Rambus Inc and Lenovo Group Limited to team up to invest strategic IP assets into startups in exchange for equity.

Aqua said its IP Investor Pool connects established IP owners with growing startups “seeking defensive patents through strategic investment.”

Aqua said: “In a milestone for the evolving patent landscape, intellectual property holders, which hold more than 60,000 patents, have signed on to offer their relevant IP in exchange for equity in high-growth startups.

“Venture-backed companies seeking defensible IP portfolios can access these patents in exchange for equity during a priced investment round for fresh capital.”

Aqua Licensing managing director Mark McMillan said: “Many early-stage startups raise venture capital on the promise of patentable technology, yet when they begin to scale, patent defense becomes a risk and a drag on valuation.

“Not only do they need patents on their own innovations, but they also need defensive patents for countersuit in the event of a claim.

“Further, the CEO of a high-growth startup is driven to secure a solid valuation relative to their company’s growth opportunity.

“Securing a defensible IP portfolio in exchange for equity at the time of a venture-backed fundraising can be the cleanest way to accomplish both goals.”

Arlene Hornilla, chief intellectual property counsel at Entegris, said: “We’re thrilled to have an opportunity to offer Entegris IP assets into startups to accelerate their growth through our participation in the IP Investor Pool.”

Stefan Tamme, VP of Worldwide Licensing and Strategy at Rambus, Inc., said: “As a leading creator of intellectual property, Rambus takes pride in contributing to the innovation ecosystem.

“We aim to give startups an ‘IP boost’ during initial growth stages, and to foster ongoing partnerships through Strategic IP Investment.

“We see the IP Investor Pool as a creative approach to enable us to deliver on this objective.”