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Tech Industry

IBM, Internet Capital plan online patent exchange

The computing giant and the Internet business holding company are forming a new venture to create an online marketplace for intellectual property.

IBM teamed today with Internet Capital Group to form a new company that will create an online marketplace for intellectual property.

Big Blue is just the latest to form a business-to-business marketplace for ideas and services rather than physical goods such as steel, food supplies and other raw materials.

IBM and Internet Capital Group said the new company will allow buyers and sellers to exchange intellectual property and patents. The new company acquired IBM's existing Intellectual Property Network (IPN) and will use it as the foundation for its marketplace, where businesses will be able to search, analyze, buy, sell and license millions of patents and other intellectual property across different industries.

The companies estimate IP market potential to be about $100 billion.

The new, as-yet-unnamed company will also offer legal support, insurance and escrow accounts, IBM and Internet Capital Group said. Internet Capital Group said it is investing about $35 million in the new venture. IBM did not disclose the size of its investment in the new company.

IPN will continue to provide free access to a variety of patent information, including U.S. and European patents and patent applications, patent abstracts from Japan, and related information. The IPN site currently averages 1.3 million hits per day, IBM said.

The new site will launch in the third quarter. IBM said it plans to list more than 25,000 of its own patents, with other technology companies joining the exchange.

The intellectual property marketplace will be hosted by IBM Global Services and will use IBM's DB2 universal database technology. The company will be headquartered in Chicago, with additional offices in San Jose, Calif., and the Netherlands.

IBM's entry into the sector may cloud the future for HelloBrain, a start-up that has also created an exchange for technology development and intellectual property. Investors in the company include Redpoint Ventures, Accel Partners, Brentwood Venture Capital, Intel's 64 Fund and Thomas Weisel Partners.