Founded 2018 | HQ Delaware, US | 15 employees (approx.) March 2023
IPwe has built a platform and services that in essence form a prototype global patent ecosystem, using blockchain, dynamic patent NFTs, and AI. It’s a highly innovative and business-savvy approach to leveraging blockchain and has the potential to reduce the cost and complexity of managing and valuing complex IP asset portfolios.
Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Delaware, IPwe is a privately owned company – led by President Leann Pinto – that provides a SaaS solution for intellectual property (IP) valuations, transactions, and analytics (actionable intelligence) to support business decisions. For example, the IPwe platform identifies which patents are a company’s crown jewels and which may be a fit for patent sales/licensing, IP-based lending, or Smart Pools, and provides a financial valuation benchmark for each patent asset.
Initially bootstrapped, the firm has raised around $14.5 million to date following a Series A round in 2021. IPwe employs approximately 15 people, and much of its work is focused on the US, European, and Japanese markets. In April 2020, the firm acquired ClearAccessIP, a San Francisco-based patent analytics software firm. And in early 2020, IPwe founded the Global Patent Registry (GPR) Foundation in Switzerland, which is to become an independent body governing the rules of the patent network. Also important to note is that IPwe’s founder, Erich Spangenberg, was the founder and former CEO of IPNAV, one of the best known and most successful names in the patent monetization sector. This alone brings potential investment, connections, and expertise that most typical start-ups do not have access to.
IPwe has built a platform and set of services that centrally locate, verify, and analyze patents; in essence, it is a prototype global patent ecosystem. It does this via the use of blockchain, dynamic patent non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and artificial intelligence (AI). In simple terms, IPwe connects via API with Clarivate, the world’s largest source of patent data, which even the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) relies on. IPwe draws from Clarivate’s best-in-class IP datasets, normalizes the data, and centralizes it in immutable value record NFTs, known as IPwe Digital Assets, available in one platform. The patent data is then analyzed for processing into actionable insights and to generate portfolio-wide valuations. IPwe currently claims to have over 90% of the world’s patents on its system – scored, rated, and valued.
At the blockchain level, IPwe treats each patent as a digital asset representative of the actual real-world asset (RWA) and further tracks every event (such as change of ownership) and transaction associated with the patent. This alone provides a single global environment where third parties can review, interact, and even potentially transact on a patent asset. The blockchain used by IPwe is permissioned, meaning only verified and accredited parties are given access, and it is global, meaning that any verified parties, regardless of location, can connect and work together securely. Any activities relating to a patent are recorded on the blockchain, but just as importantly they are controlled and to a degree automated via the use of Smart Contracts. IPwe runs on Casper but also uses IBM and Hyperledger technology to support its Smart Intangible Asset Management (SIAM) solution (see Figure 1).
On top of this blockchain registry, IPwe leverages AI to analyze the patent contents and relationships. For example, it can look for different patent ownership across countries, check differences between similar patents, identify expiry dates, and/or confirm ownership of a patent. It thus automates activities that today are typically slow, manual, and costly. In essence, it is an asset management platform designed specifically to generate revenue from an intellectual property (IP) portfolio. Put another way, this is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product for managing, valuing, and transacting IP assets.
From a practical perspective, IPwe provides SIAM, a SaaS platform that encompasses the firm’s own patent valuation algorithm and the Clarivate IP dataset (via strategic partnership). This is all underpinned by blockchain for centralized, verified, secured data management, and provides a mechanism to manage value and transact IP assets. The platform does this by creating tokenized (blockchain) IP assets (IPwe Digital Assets) and running its algorithm atop this to generate analytical insights into the portfolio, allowing the owner to understand the portfolio’s value and performance. In short, it is a comprehensive NFT system designed specifically for financial IP asset management.
Furthermore, despite being a relatively new market entrant, it seems to be doing well with over 25 million patent asset NFTs expected to be tokenized by Q2 2023.
Spinning out of the core SIAM platform are a series of “Smart Pools” that are consortium-based shared IP portfolios. These allow patent owners to contribute their patents to be collectively licensed with other consortium members’ patents in the same emerging-technology Smart Pool. In practice, this means that owners of large IP portfolios can pool the rights to license a focused, but undervalued, subset of their portfolio alongside similar assets of other IP owners to enhance and leverage them, as well as to gain collective insight into the value of those assets. Notably, there is no lock-in, and Smart Pool founders who decide to leave simply take their assets with them, minimizing potential risk.
We first wrote about IPwe in 2021, and they were in fact a winner of one of our coveted Innovation Index Awards. But two years is a long time in the tech sector, and the firm has certainly expanded and built out much more of a working product atop its core platform in that time. Though wary of using terms such as “unique” in our research, we are certainly unaware of any similar platform or product approach in the market. Two years on from our first coverage, it remains a highly innovative and business-savvy approach to leveraging blockchains. IPwe is something of a pioneer and trailblazer that well illustrates the largely untapped value of blockchain for business.
Advice to Buyers
Clearly, IPwe is a specialized platform that is of interest to those owning or managing IP assets. IPwe is unusual in that it also targets the non-IP audience such as investors and business development and finance types including CFOs. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently said that “IP is no longer just a technical field of interest to a small group of specialists, but has become a powerful catalyst for jobs, investments, business growth and economic development in all parts of the world, and especially for developing countries and LDCs.” [Link] That being said, the world of IP management has a well-deserved reputation of being slow to change and behind the times, with many millions of IP assets currently hidden, lost, undervalued, and underappreciated. As of today, to the best of our knowledge IPwe is the only serious alternative game in town. It’s relatively simple to use and at a bare minimum has the potential to reduce the cost and complexity of managing and valuing complex IP portfolios.
- First to market
- Leverages advanced blockchain and AI technology
- Become the premier trading platform for global IP
- Bring transparency to the IP field
- Bring actionable intelligence and answers to make business decisions, including for non-patent types
- Increase the worldwide 5% of patents that are commercialized
- Help patent owners generate 10+% more ROI from their IP portfolio
- Continue to expand the scale of the IP assets under its management
- Provide an attractive and modern alternative to traditional IP management
- Fast rate of adoption for its SaaS platform
- Over 25 million active IP assets loaded into the SIAM solution
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