Now this is thinking outside of the box - online auction for patents

Now this is thinking outside the box. An online auction for patents.

The world can be a rough place for independent inventors. They can often find themselves in court, battling big corporations, spending piles of money on lawyers and leaving it up to judges and juries to determine the value of their hard-won patents.

That could be changing. Wrangling over patents is beginning to move out of the courtroom and into the marketplace. A flurry of new companies and investment groups has sprung up to buy, sell, broker, license and auction patents. And venture capital and private equity is starting to pour into the field.

The arrival of these new business-minded players, according to patent experts and economists, could lead to a robust marketplace for patents, where value is determined not so much by court judgments but by buyers and sellers, perhaps, someday, like eBay.

And patents, after all, are ideas. Any market mechanisms that speed up the process of figuring out what a patent is worth should hasten the flow of ideas into the economy, accelerating the pace of innovation, policy experts say.

Here's the reality for most inventors. Patents are only as good as the attorneys. One can have a great concept, a great patent, have it ripped off brazenly and still never see any money. Even worse than this, a patent often goes to die with the corporation who owns it.

All of this stifles innovation and the individual inventor, innovation and one's own intellectual property, currently doesn't pay.

While we write volumes on the financial oligarchy, the race to the bottom on careers and wages, it's nice to see a business model that might give the little guy more of a break and reduce the patent attorney litigation game considerably.

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