On June 15, 2015, the Open Register of Patent Ownership, known as ORoPO (www.oropo.net) was launched. ORoPO is a non-profit organization that operates a free, open global database of verified patent ownership information. This type of information is maintained by patent offices around the world, including the USPTO, but unfortunately the information available is often inaccurate or incomplete. ORoPO aims to change that and consolidate verified ownership information all in one place. Right now the database is very new and also voluntary, but some major patent holders are among the initial participants, including IBM and Microsoft.
Like any other property, confidence in ownership information of intellectual property is extremely important when transferring that property. If you’re a potential licensee, you need to be certain who owns the rights to the patent and whether the patent is owned free and clear of any encumbrances, such as licensing or litigation. This information also reduces risk to licensees and therefore makes patent rights more valuable to owners. If ORoPO can accomplish its goal, the results will be great for both owners and licensees alike.