When John Amster launched RPX Corp. as the cure-all for patent trolls last September, IP observers wondered how the new-fangled IP biz would fare, especially during the recession.
The San Francisco company, which aims to protect its dues-paying members from patent suits by buying dangerous patents off the street, is actually having quite a go of it. It just signed up its thirteenth and fourteenth members: HP and Nokia. Members pay anywhere from $35,000 and $4.9 million depending on the company's size; you can bet Hewlett-Packard and Nokia are on the upper end.
The interesting thing about HP joining is that in the IP world it’s sort of a stamp of really being on the opposite side of the patent trolls. HP has long railed against patent trolls and according to news reports shunned Intellectual Ventures, a giant patent hoarding company that started out as a defensive patent aggregator like RPX, but later turned into as Gawker put it “a patent vampire.” So it looks like part of RPX’s success is in some ways being the anti-Intellectual Ventures. Amster said it's important to be on the right side of things.
“That's the key,” said Amster. “What we’re offering is something that is very clean — it is, in their view, on the right side of the line.”
— Zusha Elinson