Richardson Oliver Law Group (ROL), run by former Rambus Inc. patent executives Kent Richardson and Erik Oliver, received an important endorsement of its open-sourced 2016 patent ranking system from Aqua Licensing LLC, the sell-side patent brokerage run by Mark McMillan, Peter Savich and Steve Smyrski.

Aqua Licensing, based in San Francisco, said it intends to include the ROL 2016 Patent Ranking System in its future patent portfolio offerings.

“While the ultimate indication of value for any patent is documented use, we see value in a transparent and well-researched ranking system to assist buyers in their initial review,” Savich said in a statement. “We support the ROL Group’s efforts in this area and are pleased to be able to support the ROL Ranking System in our offerings going forward.”

The ROL System computes a rank between zero and 100 for each issued U.S. asset. This rank is meant to serve as a tool for quickly ranking patents. The rank represents five attributes of a published patent: length of claim one, number of forward citations, number of original claims, patent age, and size of the patent family.

The ROL Group, based in Los Altos, Calif., developed its patent ranking system by analyzing its proprietary database of more than $7 billion of brokered patent market offerings, as well as patent litigation data.

Oliver said in an interview that the firm has been working on its patent ranking system for about five years. He said it was made possible by Google’s effort to make publicly available all the data from the U.S. Patent Office. Since then, the PTO has made the data available as well.

“We wanted something transparent to clients. We’ve done experiments with previous iterations of the ranking systems. You get the same basic list. We tried to refine it so that you can ask the right question. We can tell you ‘this is where you should look probabilistically.’”

Richardson and Oliver’s patent ranking system combines the Google data on patents from 2005 to 2015 with information the law firm tracks on which patent portfolios actually sold, which gives it the ability to track the difference between the patents that actually sold and the overall universe of patents.

“This is not a generic ranking system,” Oliver said. “There are other systems that try to establish a rank score. Our system is not a judgement of better or worse. It’s about how to allocate resources and which patents you should spend time on.”

While Aqua is the first patent broker to endorse and use the ROL 2016 patent ranking system, Oliver said a number of its clients also have adopted the system or developed their own systems based on it.

“This is a relative ranking system allowing people to sort and allocate resources in diligence,” Oliver said. “We’re going to use this as a tool for data driven decision making. We do better as an industry when people put better patents on the market.”

-—To reach the reporter responsible for this story, please contact Dan Lonkevich at 707 318-7899 or