It’s clear that intellectual property is more valuable than ever, but as more companies realize this fact, the competition for the best patents heats up. That is part of the reason why American Express created the IP Zone, which is, “designed to promote the advancement of the intellectual property marketplace, including patents, trademarks, software and other IP products.”
According to Tracey Thomas, chief IP strategist at American Express and CEO of IP Zone, “IP Zone was a direct response to our need as a company to identify disruptive patents and technology before competitors, including strategic companies and patent assertion entities (PAEs). We wanted a way to get out in front of activity we are seeing in our space.” Thomas noted that, the sooner companies can learn about a technology, the quicker they can make a move, making an acquisition cheaper than it would be later in the game.
Thomas said the development of the IP Zone can be traced back at least seven years, when American Express began looking at the patent space closely. The company realized that the patent marketplace was heating up, but there wasn’t a really efficient way to transact around those assets. “We began developing a platform which has a marketplace where companies can publish assets or they can identify assets.” Thomas explains. “It has a secure workplace environment where companies can work those assets and make them pretty before they publish them, like fixing up a home before you get to the marketplace.”
The IP Zone is open for use by other companies in other industries far outside of the e-commerce space where American Express operates. One such company is General Electric. GE, a company with considerable IP assets covering a range of technologies and products, is a client of the IP Zone. "GE counts the IP Zone among the various channels and avenues it is exploring to efficiently connect GE's intellectual property and technology to the external world," a spokesperson from GE stated.
Companies like GE use the IP Zone to manage IP monetization and commercialization efforts, using the marketplace as buyers or investors. Thomas explains that it is an end-to-end platform to help American Express identify those disruptive patents in order to extract value without litigation. “We want to create an ecosystem where IP buyers and sellers can easily access each other and communicate just as they do in pure investment transactions,” Thomas says. The IP Zone is useful for those who have never completed an IP transaction before as well as those who are inclined to buy in the area. With the business value of IP higher than ever, the Zone gives companies the chance to manage, market and monetize those important assets.