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In the past, patent sales have been staid affairs conducted by executives negotiating behind closed doors. This year Ocean Tomo, which bills itself as an IP merchant bank, flung the doors open, hosting two public auctions.

The auctions tested the boundaries of the relatively new world of IP monetization, says Ocean Tomo CEO James Malackowski. These days more corporations are trying to treat IP like real property. If homes can be appraised, bought and sold, reason proponents, so can patents. Ocean Tomo, founded in 1999, was an early adopter of the philosophy, aiming to do for IP what bankers, stockbrokers and real estate agents do for other assets.

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