For some companies, it's become a lifeline. They can't raise money any other way. Banks aren't lending. Investors have become skittish. So, over the past six months, a growing number of cash-strapped startups have begun selling their patents. And they're not the only ones. More and more companies of all sizes are seeking to weather these tough economic times by selling patents.
"Since September, I've seen a lot more patents being offered for sale--better quality patents, across all types of industries," says Don Merino, general manager of acquisitions for Intellectual Ventures, one of the world's largest patent licensing firms.
Patents have been bought and sold for hundreds of years, but the market for these assets has jumped dramatically in recent years. "Today, every good-sized company is buying patents," Chernesky says. "Some of them are spending more on buying patents than on developing their own."