[Nothing in this article is or should be construed as the giving of legal advice and/or the practice of the law.]
One of the points made by the Rembrandts book is that companies may own valid patents that are no longer useful to them. For example, maybe the discontinued a product line and have no plans to resurrect anything similar. Maybe some of the engineers created innovations that may not be useful to the company. Nevertheless, in some circumstances subsets of a larger patent portfolio may have value that owners can realize.
These no-longer-useful patents can be licensed to others who are practicing the inventions. If the potential financial rewards and financial resources are sufficiently attractive, the company can consider litigation, especially when the potential licensee is being recalcitrant.
Alternatively, companies such as Ocean Tomo provide a patent auction service to help patent owners unlock the value of their IP. It's unclear whether this approach provides the best return on patents, especially when a portfolio may apply to large markets and large participants. Nonetheless, Ocean Tomo and similar companies deserve credit for helping to organize and shape a market.
In addition to undertaking litigation to enforce patents, IP owners may turn to patent licensing and assertion firms or to certain law firms who undertake patent litigation on a contingency fee basis. If the case for infringement is strong, if the patents are of the highest quality, and if the parties believed to be infringing have deep enough pockets, the contingency firms may ask for a third of the proceeds if successful. Since there are a multitude of factors, financial arrangements differ from firm to firm and case to case.
I'll address patent licensing and assertion firms in the next installment.