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Patent auction nets millions for inventorsCNET News.com's Michael Kanellos checks out the Ocean Tomo Spring IP Patent auction in San Francisco, where buyers snapped up $19.6 million worth of patents. While critics say these patents will fuel lawsuits, inventors say it's a good way to get recognition...
[ Music ] ^M00:00:02 >> Why is this man smiling? >> And I did this invention about eight or ten years ago and I sold it for a million dollars today. >> Sold. >> New record for the auction. >> Hi, this is Michael Kanellos at News.com and the Patent Auctions held by Ocean Tomo are one or the more interesting phenomenon going on in the intellectual property world right now. What happen at these, basically people that have patents, people that have interesting URL's and people that have copyrights on pretty rare materials show up and they try to auction them off. Last year for instance, somebody hits some 1966 footage of Keith Richards getting electrocuted. It sold for a lot. Now, who's buying these things? Corporations, lawyers and patent enforcement companies who basically take these materials and then try to extract royalties out of others. >> But it has also brought in the financial investors, such as the batch of capitalists or the private equity partner who realizes he can increase the value of his firm by adding a portfolio protection. >> And now bid 3.1 million in the row. >> The auction this week took-in $19.6 Million. And the interesting part, anonymity is the key. Take a look at my badge here. The sellers don't mind telling you who you are, but the buyers really wanna stay secret, that's why a lot of them just bid by the phone. >> Yongyong Xu has a patent that could entitle him to royalties on the programming language Ajax says, it's also a way to get recognition. >> This is something that I have done. I just need some -- get some respect out of it. >> Critics say the patent auctions could spur lawsuits. Maybe, maybe not says Stu Soffer. >> Some of the patents from former litigations now being asserted that in the court system. And its relatively few compared to have never have lost or resolved, so clearly someone is saving them for some thing or using it defensively in their own portfolio as a supplement to what they're building. >> 3.6 something. >> What are some good auction strategies? Auctioneer Charlie Ross says don't hold back and pay attention. >> If you've got a car or a chest of jewels or a chandelier, and you're sitting next to your wife, that ain't gonna happen. >> You see that happening? >> But of course that happens frequently. >> Oh, my god. >> But with the patent, I think occasionally you'll get a man that perhaps will have marked it down at a million or will go 1.1, 1.2. I hope that's where the auctioneer comes in. Just take a little longer... >> Eldridge is one of two people I met at the auction who sold patents they came up with while on vacation. Why didn't he try to make a company out of his patent or sell it directly, he tried but nobody would listen. >> I wrote a lot of letters to Garman, Magellan, Google, Microsoft, I mean everybody and independent and the vendors say, they don't wanna hear about it. ^M00:02:30 [ Music ]