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Uber Technologies Inc is inviting patent holders who want to sell to make them an offer, as the ride-hailing service aims to grow its intellectual property portfolio and develop new services.
Kurt Brasch, who heads up patent transactions at Uber, announced a patent purchase program dubbed “UP3" in an April 11 blog post. The company will accept submissions from April 24 through May 23, Brasch said in the post .
UP3 will supplement Uber’s efforts to develop patented technologies through its own engineers, Brasch told Bloomberg BNA. Uber has a total of 364 U.S. patents and pending applications covering technologies including billing, messaging and geolocation for ride-hailing, according to Patent and Trademark Office assignment records.
“We’re actually a casting a pretty wide net on this and we’re not going to limit the search or categories at all,” Brasch said. However, patents related to ride-hailing, maps and navigation and autonomous vehicle technologies make up Uber’s “sweet spot,” he said.
“Those patents will probably hold a little higher value but we’re absolutely going to keep our eyes open in many areas in software, electronics, wireless and all the spaces converging in this new world,” Brasch said.
Uber’s move comes after other companies’ similar patent purchase efforts. Allied Security Trust, a company that buys patents in an effort to safeguard its members from infringement suits, organized the “Industry Patent Purchase Program (IP3)" last year. IP3 was modeled on a 2015 patent buying program launched by Alphabet Inc’s Google. In both of those programs, patent owners were asked to offer patents at a take-it-or-leave-it fixed price, with no negotiations.
Brasch emphasized thatUber’s program wasn’t about getting patents to be aggressive or to assert them. “It’s a way of protecting us and giving us options going forward,” Brasch said.
Uber will accept up to five patent families in one submission, so that sellers can group patent families that complement each other, Brasch said. Uber is looking for patents granted across the globe and each family must have at least one U.S. granted patent, he added.
Uber will let sellers know by July 7 if it wants to buy patents or not, the blog post said. It will return signed contracts to sellers by Aug. 22 and make payments within 45 days after that, the company said.
“By eliminating price negotiations and providing quick reviews, UP3 will reduce the total transaction time compared to a typical patent transaction,” Brasch said in the blog post. Before joining Uber in September, Brasch was previously at Alphabet Inc.'s Google, where he was a senior patent licensing manager and managed the company 2015 patent purchase program.
On Feb. 23, Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car business , accused Uber, in a lawsuit, of stealing its Light Detection and Ranging—or lidar—technology designs and infringing patents that are crucial to autonomous-car technology.
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