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Understanding the other side’s position in a patent dispute and limiting patent aggression are key aims of Jaime Siegel, CEO of ticketing marketplace FlipTix, who talks to WIPR.
IP plays a very important role at FlipTix, an early stage startup ticketing marketplace, says CEO Jaime Siegel, who is also global licensing director of the Open Invention Network (OIN).
“As well as being CEO of FlipTix, as an IP attorney with over 25 years of experience, I am responsible for managing our IP strategy,” Siegel explains.
“FlipTix is opening an entirely new market—a tertiary ticketing market for the tickets of fans who leave events early,” he says. “We need to mark off our territory and make clear that we have protected this new market.”
For people leaving events early, FlipTix, which was founded in 2016, has created a marketplace where they can ‘flip’ their vacated seats or space to fans not currently in the venue, whether it be a festival, sports match, or cultural/arts event.
Currently, FlipTix has 14 patent applications around the world on file.
“The applications are directed to the operation of the tertiary market that we created, by protecting the idea of knowing when someone leaves a venue and then posting the vacated space for sale,” Siegel says.
“Our patent portfolio has created tremendous value for our investors, and the IP will continue to gain value.”
He adds: “We have Patent Cooperation Treaty patent applications that will ultimately result in patents in key jurisdictions around the world. A global IP strategy is key for a global business.”
“A patent owner, NPE or otherwise, is never going to choose litigation as a first resort.”
Like the rest of the FlipTix team, Siegel wears multiple hats at the startup: he is responsible for investor relations, overall company strategy, and making sure “the very best team members” are on hand to execute the business plan.
FlipTix’s first live events are scheduled for later this month at BLK Live in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to Siegel, and the app will be available via app stores in the next few weeks. Additional events are scheduled for this summer in Scottsdale, and FlipTix is in discussions with many festival promoters regarding launches later this year in the US. FlipTix anticipates a launch in the UK in the next 12 months.
Alongside Siegel’s work at FlipTix, he consults at the OIN, a “patent non-aggression community” with the mission to protect Linux, the family of free and open-source software operating systems.
“Open-source software is built on the ideal of distributed development that is not owned by any single entity,” Siegel says. “For open-source software to thrive, it must be truly open.”
The OIN, which has received strong industry support from companies such as Google, IBM, and Sony, advocates for engagement and sharing across the software industry in order to aid and protect innovation.
At the OIN, a model of “co-opetition” (co-operation plus competition) rather than competition is encouraged, according to Siegel.
“Our members are free to compete and enforce their patents at the application layer—those components that end-users use and see—but agree to keep the common engine that powers those applications patent-aggression free,” he explains.
He adds that membership in OIN is free.
“OIN is a unique organisation in that its sole mission is to expand the community of members that are committed to the appropriate conduct that is necessary to propagate open-source conduct,” Siegel says. OIN does not generate revenue from its members. The contributions of eight full funding members, IBM, Philips, Sony, Toyota, NEC, Redhat, SUSE and Google, sustain OIN in its mission. Importantly, all members sign the same membership agreement.
This conduct “mitigates patent aggression”, he explains.
Siegel has previously worked in large multinational corporations, having served as vice president, senior IP counsel at Sony for more than fifteen years.
Speaking about his experiences of IP licensing, Siegel says that it “provides the ability for businesses to tap into technology areas that they may not have focused on directly”.
He believes enforcement through litigation should be a last resort for alleged infringement, regardless of the patent owner’s size.
“Businesses are in business and they should make smart business decisions. When enforcement results in litigation, it is generally because one party is being unreasonable,” he says.
In recent years, businesses categorised as non-practising entities (NPEs) have gained a controversial reputation in the patent landscape. They are companies that own patents but do not develop the inventions or use them to produce things, instead licensing their IP to others.
Some NPEs, referred to pejoratively as ‘patent trolls’, have made headlines for the wrong reasons, but Siegel doesn’t differentiate between patent owners. .
“It is unfortunate that many entities arbitrarily choose to ignore NPEs, simply because they are an NPE,” he says.
“It is important to remember that NPEs do not steal patents—they buy them, or are otherwise engaged by the patent owner. If a patent owner decides to monetise its patent by selling to an NPE or engaging one, that is how they have chosen to be rewarded for their innovation.
“In my opinion, a patent owner, NPE or otherwise, should never choose litigation as a first resort. Litigation adds costs to the licensing process and results in the need to overprice royalties to compensate for those costs. It is always more efficient to negotiate before litigation.”
He says it’s important to make “smart business decisions, not emotional decisions based on the character of the IP owner”.
Siegel has managed hundreds of patent litigations around the globe over the course of his career, but he has seen only two lawsuits he describes as “frivolous” (both of which were dismissed).
Concluding, Siegel says: “Litigation is not black and white; it’s mostly grey. It is a mistake to not at least try to understand your adversary’s position on the matter.”
patent, Jaime Siegel, FlipTix, Open Invention Network, TPN