Cyber security · Data privacy

How to best market/sell valuable IP?

Nicholas Meyler Recruiter/Broker for "Disruptive"​ Talent. Questing for the Next $Trillion Unicorn.

June 29th, 2016

Because I have a fantastic network of brilliant inventors and entrepreneurs, someone with very valuable IP has asked me to help him find potential licencees, sub-licensors and/or buyers. The IP consists of fundamental patents and trade secrets which would (according to him) render ANY stored data completely immune from hacking (even by massive brute-force attacks that quantum computers will soon be capable of). Because the stored data is "in the cloud", and because of the way it is stored, it will be impossible to decrypt and locate. He also has some amazing ideas on Privacy, including Technology that can make a buyer completely anonymous, if they wish.

What is the best way to go about convincing potential buyers? What is the best way to get a "foot in the door"?

Jesse Merl President AudioBooth

June 29th, 2016

In 2015 I was the CEO of a sports gaming company and we were looking for a company to acquire us. The two leading companies in our space had raised close to a half billion dollars in funding each. We had raised 2.7m. Selling while our valuation was low enough made the most sense. I found multiple suitors and did end up getting acquired by an east coast entertainment venue. However, prior to that, we went to the last step of the acquisition process with yahoo. We also discussed acquisition with Fanduel and a couple others. Without exception, every lead came from me finding an executive or head of business development at a target company on LinkedIn and starting a conversation. That's a great place to start. Bus Dev people...this kind of thing is their job.

Ib Olsen Energy Storage, CleanTech, and Sustainability

June 30th, 2016

I would suggest making at least a proof of concept / beta version of the inventions before approaching potential buyers. Having multiple patents myself I know the jump from patent to product may not be trivial, and it will almost always increase the value of your IP if you can show something that incorporates the IP.

Kishore Swaminathan Serial entrepreneur looking for a cofounder

June 30th, 2016

First, I'd take any such claim with a huge bag of salt.

That said, try to ascertain whether his idea is a method for solving an application problem or a technique/algorithm for solving a technical problem. So, for example, swiping a credit card and then authorizing the transaction on your mobile device is essentially a business method for solving a consumer application. There are at least 20 patents for this with minor variations. These patents are not worth much except for defensive purposes.

In contrast, the RSA algorithm is a technique for solving a technical problem - using asymmetric keys to establish a secure channel between two unknown parties over an insecure channel. Such an invention can underlie a wide range of applications in multiple industries - from user authentication to financial transactions, secure storage of medical records, espionage and so forth.

Based on what you say, it looks like your friend could have a real technique or algorithm. These patents can be very valuable if (a) it's in the hands of the right company and the company buttresses its product portfolio around this new data security technique; or (b) it's such a basic technique that dramatically changes data security that everybody needs to license it - in this case, licensing may be a better strategy than selling it to a one-product pony.

If I were you, this is what I'd do.

1. Before going to a biz dev guy or IP attorney, I'd get an academic in this area and - under NDA - get an opinion as to whether your friend's invention is indeed something new and a breakthrough. The academic may not be able to tell you about the business potential of the patent, but can at least verify that originality/significance of the idea.

2. Once I ascertain that it is indeed new or original, I'd try to understand precisely what "technical" problem this solves. This may involve multiple conversations with the inventor to try and tease out the technical problem from application ideas (e.g., making a buyer completely anonymous is an application problem, not a technical problem; being able to run SQL queries over encrypted data is a technical problem that can enable a lot of applications).

3. Once I understand what technical problem is being solved, then I'll make a list of what applications it could enable. If this list is sizable or significant, I'd do what Mr Basu above suggests - try to get a patent with international IP coverage. Ideally, you want a clean patent on the technique itself and a set of secondary patents around it for specific applications it can enable.

4. Having set the IP process in motion and with a list of potential applications, I'll open conversation with biz dev guys as have been suggested. If you go about it methodically, you'll find applications you or the inventor have never thought of [for example, an unusual early application of RFID was in the Australian boonies to identify which sheep was entering the feeding bin and control how much it food is dispenses or add any nutritional additives or medications for that sheep].

5. As you talk to biz dev guys from different companies, you'll begin to get a sense of what pain points in different companies/industries that your friend's patent can solve and the size of those opportunities.

This is the point at which you can decide whether to sell it one big buyer or license to several.

Sounds too complicated? If it's really such a sweeping idea that is as big as is claimed, then this process will enable you to extract the maximum value from it. 

But then an academic may be able to ferret out some paper in some esoteric Russian journal (unlikely, but possible).

Good luck!

Ashrujit Basu IP Lawyer and Founder of IPMall ( an Intellectual Property Licensing Company )

June 29th, 2016

Hi Nicholas! 
since its high value deal proposition so one should go in a systematic way, IP is value less unless it's protected under global IP law regime, but if you treat it as a Trade Secret then you won't disclose it for getting a Patent on the System and Method of encrypted data protection. So first your friend has to decide which way to go, if he's applying for US Patent along with filling patent in other convention countries like EU, India and China then only the next step should be finding out a suitable buyer or licensee for the same. 
There are many top notch companies who buy patents, a preferable mode of getting a licensee is doing targeted Email Marketing. I've a new startup called IPMall.Co which is first of its kind online Licensing forum for enlisting and selling every kind of IPs. I would be glad to list your friends IP on our portal and looking for a potential licensee, enlisting of IP is free of cost while we only charge after closing the deal successfully. 
You can get back to me in this regard by dropping a mail: 

Nicholas Meyler Recruiter/Broker for "Disruptive"​ Talent. Questing for the Next $Trillion Unicorn.

June 30th, 2016

Thanks for the great suggestions. 

To clarify, this is a successful inventor who has already patented the technology (17 patents) in 2005. He sold his last company for $20 million, so he is a "proven commodity".  "Proof of concept" already exists and works well, embodied as a mere 2000 lines of code.

The difficulty, he says, is getting his idea in front of the right people (decision makers). My chief concern or question is how to get access to the right people. Of course, I already know how to do that, in many cases, but I am looking for other ideas to add to my own collection... "outside the box" ideas, etc. Great answers, so far!

Sheeba Pathak Solopreneur

December 15th, 2019

Curious-it's nearing the year 2020, is this IP a reality?

Now, inventors and researchers find it difficult and in fact don't even consider an option of mass producing and scaling products for the purpose of sales-primarily because of their slightly silo'd sense of working. So, when it comes to getting afoot in the door, that's something best left for a salesman to do so; however the act of conviction would come from the passion translated from the inventor itself.

Now how would you go about it? find a target market for the potential use of these products: if its use is in a business or in Govt. security or in public places and mass areas; then pick those businesses and check where are they going wrong. (Yes, for you to offer the product's pitch you need to know their business for which you need them to tell you what's their area of expertise and where things lack-primarily why you need to get an in-depth knowledge of the target sectors, the target firms and start with small firms, medium firms and finally large conglomerates)

Yes, LinkedIn and all help in connecting when at the stage of sales call, but you would be ready for a good lead conversion when you're confident of steering the conversation, pitching the product to those who already need it.