Fluid Innovation: The market for valuing intellectual property

fluid123.png Groups of people can more accurately decide the worth of something than individuals can, at least if you believe in free markets.

Fluid Innovation wants to use this concept to create an online marketplace where companies can license large, unused stashes of original technology to other companies who see ways to bring it to market. Called Virtual Ventures, it will launch at DEMO this week.

The Austin, Texas company lets sellers — Fortune 1000 companies, for now — provide brief, business-focused descriptions about whatever intellectual property they may have, patented or not. Buyers, for now smaller software vendors and IT types, can buy “shares” in the seller’s technology they find most promising, based on an allotted number of shares each buyer is given each week. In other words, Fluid is creating an auction to try to determine the potential value of unexploited technology.

It is similar other marketplaces for patents, such as the LegalForce, Yet2.com (see coverage).

At Fluid Innovation, a seller can use this market to get a better idea of what their technology is worth, something that is often not clear if it was originally created to fill an internal need.

In one of example of how Fluid can work, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ legal team decided to commercialize software the company built to transmit technical data about F-16 fighter jets between maintenance crews. The team worked with Fluid to license the technology to a company called Jouve Aviation Solutions, which wants to provide the same service for other aircraft, as well.

In the corporate world, the idea of predictions markets is that employees can buy imaginary shares of proposed strategies, projects and other important decisions they favor — the smartest employees will favor the best ideas, influencing subsequent management decisions.

Internal stock markets of various sorts have been introduced at companies such as Microsoft, Intel and Hewlett-Packard.

Fluid Innovation is currently self-financed.