Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board in Practice

The Patent Reform Act of 2011 made a number of changes to U.S. patent law, some of them intended to rein in "patent trolls." Among the latter was the creation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which provides a means for an entity to challenge the validity of a patent that--for instance--is being cited in an infringement claim against the entity.

So, how have things turned out so far for patent holders and patent challengers squaring off before the PTAB?

Challenges of patents have been quite prolific since the board was established in late 2012, with more than 1,000 of them filed to date. And so far, the decisions have come down hard on patent holders. The first five decisions all went against the patent holders and so have the large majority of the 20 other decisions issued since then. This has of course caused concern among patent holders, especially smaller entities less able to defend themselves before the Board.

Now, new legislation is working its way through Congress that may give patent-holders a better chance to prevail. Currently, if a patent holder does lose the case with the Board, they may appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and from there, on to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Deploying Mobile Strategy? Better Have an App for That.

Changes in technology and how people interact with it are rapidly accelerating. It was in the late-1990s that businesses came to realize that they had to develop a website and an Internet strategy. It took over a decade until, in the early 2010s, smartphones and tablets became almost ubiquitous and businesses realized that they also needed a mobile strategy. Typically marketers have interpreted this to mean that they must optimize their website for display on a smartphone.

But if that is what you think, then please think again, because consumer engagement with their smartphones and tablets has evolved rapidly as the number and functionality of apps has exploded. Flurry, a firm that conducts research on mobile-device usage, has reported that smartphone users now spend 80% of their time using apps and only 20% or less using mobile websites. If you are relying on a mobile-site alone, you are missing out on 80% of your prospective customers' attention. The challenge is that consumers often download apps and then scarcely use them. Putting a lot of money into app development and then conducting unstructured marketing to drive downloads may not produce the results you desire.

However, most every such problem is typically met with a solution, and Twitter and Facebook offer ads specifically designed to get customers to install and then actually use apps. Google is working on such offerings as well. These services make use of a concept called "deep linking," in which a link can be directed to a specific portion of an app. Facebook has reported that its app-install ads have been quite successful in driving app downloads. These ads can drive downloads from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

It is no marketing secret that you must be where your customers are, and your mobile customers are on apps!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

IPOs on the Upswing

Anyone who follows the IPO market knows that it usually registers somewhere around 8.5 on the Richter scale. Up and down; boom and bust. Well, now we're back to boom!

According to Renaissance Capital, IPO filings numbered 300 in 2005, 104 in 2006, and are on track to exceed 350 in 2014 if recent trends continue.

One of the primary reasons why IPO filings rise and fall so precipitously is the strong or weak performance of recent IPOs. There is a very strong herd mentality here.

Kindred Biosciences is up nearly 130% so far in 2014, and other 2013 filings have performed quite strongly as well. In fact, several other issues are up more than 50% YTD and 2013 filings are on average up nearly 6% in 2014.

This bodes well for companies who are well-prepared and are considering whether now is the time to execute an IPO.