Honda Gets into the Patent Transaction Deal with Ofinno
US-based Research Company, Ofinno, and Japan-based automobile major Honda have completed a large patent transaction, where Honda has acquired 100 high-value patents from Ofinno. These patents cover a range of technologies from cellular signaling to radio resource management.
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Ofinno’s Wireless Technology
Ofinno has been working in the field of wireless communication and video compression announced last month regarding the patent transaction deal. They have been into varied technologies for which they grant the license. As per the website, they deal in technologies ranging from 5G applications for the vehicle to vehicle (V2V), vehicle to the network (V2N), vehicle to infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle to pedestrians (V2P), which they group as ‘V2X. It has been the assignee at issuance of 409 US patents after 1975. Helping them to try distinguishing them from patent trolls, they also hired Grafik, which is a branding and marketing agency. The website of Grafik notes that “[o]ur extensive interviews confirmed that this belief in creating technology for ever-better products — versus simply cranking out patents designed to make it harder for other inventors to defend their innovations — was also deeply held by Ofinno’s Ph.D. inventors and its supporting staff of lawyers and researchers.” Probably through this marketing, Ofinno wants to prove its legitimacy in the market of patent-producing and licensing companies.
Acquiring Patents or Accumulating?
Honda, as a major conglomerate in the automobile sector, has been the assignee at issuance of 27,846 US patents issued after 1975. Even Honda has been assigned patents from USPTO which also contains the term “wireless” and the number goes to 1475. A V2V technology was filed by Honda in 1994 which includes “wireless” in its specification. Nevertheless, if we compare with Ofinno, the first patent it filed at USPTO which contains the term “wireless” was in 2016. Therefore, prima facie, Honda seems to have more patent and more technological interventions than Ofinno. Still, the acquisition by Honda seems to be more of an accumulation of additional 5G patents. The acquisition perhaps can be more of a creation of boundary for the 5G communication patents as well, therefore, a defensive and offensive protection of the said technology. The commercials that were paid and the specific patents were not disclosed by the parties. Honda is not the first company to have acquired the patent from Ofinno. Ofinno has been in the process of selling its patents to a large number of companies which includes automobile as well as handset manufacturers, covering a large number of technologies including 4G and 5G wireless technologies.
Honda and Ofinno have not announced the commercials and other details publicly. Probably it can be difficult for us to assume the exact nature of patents that have been acquired. Also, it is interesting to see Ofinno going along with the approach of selling patents instead of licensing patents, distinguishing their activities from an organization that deals in patent licensing having no such associated commercial activities. The market associated with patents and license are private and to avoid negative connotations, it becomes necessary for the company to make the transaction public. Nevertheless, these details generally harm the value of patents. Ofinno hiring of branding and marketing agency might avoid such negative connotation but cannot effectively eliminate all.