As a part of my job, I am sometimes asked to place a value on a particular patent or application. This can be very difficult to do as a patent is protecting an intangible asset of the underlying invention. The value that the patent has ultimately depends upon many factors which are difficult to predict. These include how many people want to copy the invention, the validity of the patent, and how successful the patentee is at enforcing it. With this in mind, it was interesting to see the valuation Shipping & Transit LLC made of their patent portfolio in their federal bankruptcy filings - $2 for a portfolio of over 60 patents and applications (some of which have expired).
Shipping & Transit LLC have been identified as a Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) - a company which does not work their patented invention but instead profits off of licensing and litigation. Without debating the merits of this classification, it is surprising that a company which at one point boasted receiving royalty payments from over 800 companies placed such a low value on its intellectual property.
Ultimately, it is a good example of the fluid nature of patent valuation. In this case, the change in US interpretation following the Alice v. CLS Bank decision may have made it harder to enforce the remaining patents. Additionally, many of the earlier patents were expiring after the end of their 20 year term. This, along with other tactical and economic factors, resulted in the company's bankruptcy and the minimal valuation.
Now, according to Shipping & Transit LLC's federal bankruptcy filings, its global patent holdings (34 in the United States and 29 elsewhere) are worth a whopping $2.