Big technology companies are searching everywhere for patents, looking to protect themselves from future litigation. Now, Google has emerged as the buyer of a patent portfolio in a complex fraud case involving 57-year-old Seattle investment professional Mark Spangler.
Spangler, who was indicted last week on 23 counts of fraud and money laundering, allegedly funneled some $46 million of investors’ funds into two startup companies in which he held interests: Seattle-based Tamarac and Georgia-based TeraHop.
TeraHop flopped last year, filing for bankruptcy protection in September. A court-appointed receivership was established shortly thereafter to manage the assets, hiring Tangible IP to sell the portfolio. Now, GeekWire has learned that Google recently paid $10 million for dozens of TeraHop’s patents, many of them related to tracking technologies associated with shipping containers and RFID technologies, according to public records.
That’s a hefty sum, especially given that TeraHop’s business didn’t take off. The funds from the patent purchase could be used to return cash to investors who lost money in the deal. Court records show that the sale would yield about $8 million for the receivership estate, enough money to discharge secured debt from TeraHop, pay creditor claims and possibly deliver leftover cash to equity owners.
Patents in the portfolio include: Antenna in cargo container monitoring and security system; Visually capturing and montioring contents and events of cargo container; Radio frequency identification based sensor and others. In total, more than 115 patents and patent applications were transferred to Google as part of the purchase.