AOP was launched in 2008. In that time, they’ve grown from a few hundred researchers, to a crowd of over 42,000 registered researchers. They’ve done research for many of the biggest names in innovation and patents, contributing work on high-profile cases and recently expanding into monetization with their unique methodology.
Following the acquisition of AOP in September 2017, Peter highlights their recent activity and insights, particularly since they were acquired by RWS, a well-known translation and intellectual property support firm based in the UK in September 2017.
Q: What spurred the creation of the company back in 2008?
A: AOP has always been about patent quality. We all know that the quality of patents is a huge topic of concern to market participants and legislators. Poor quality patents put the entire system at risk and it opens the door to bad actors. At the same time, assessing quality, especially post-grant, is not an easy proposition given the broad definition of prior art. The old orthodoxy is daunting and unreliable. AOP started as a better way to find prior art, using the public, or, as we call them, the crowd. And in fact, it has worked quite well.
Q: Do you still have that focus? It sounds like a response to the NPE or “troll” issue, and the panic around that seems to have subsided for the time being.
A: I think AOP will always be centered on patent quality. You’re correct on the initial focus. There was a perfect storm in the 2009-2012 timeframe regarding poor quality patents being wielded in the market with questionable business practices — that had wide-ranging effects. First, it drove a sense of urgency in those threatened by such patents to find a better way to locate invalidating prior art. This helped launch AOP and it generated a lot of business that in turn attracted an impressive and talented crowd. It also acted as a catalyst for patent reform that was long in process, resulting in the America Invents Act. Many other things changed during that time, not the least of which was that corporate clients took effective action to fight bad patents and to develop risk management practices around impending threats. In short, everyone got organized and developed processes to deal with poor quality patents. AOP was a part of that process for many, and remains so today. The net effect of all of these actions is a more confident patent owner and market player able to act deliberately in fighting bad quality.