Pluritas Will Auction Zoltar's GPS Emergency Locator Patents
Intellectual Property Asset Sale Likely to Attract Interest of Leading Cell Phone Handset Manufacturers and Patent Aggregators
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Zoltar Satellite Alarm Systems of Tiburon, CA has engaged Pluritas, LLC, a San Francisco-based firm that focuses on intellectual property transactions, to conduct an auction of all of its patents on location-aware devices using cell phone and Global-Positioning-System (GPS) technology. The auction will commence on Wednesday, October 14, 2009.
“In addition to major mobile handset manufacturers, this auction should also draw the attention of other significant players in the location-based-services space and major patent aggregators.”
Zoltar, a small, privately held California firm founded in 1995, was an early pioneer in inventing and patenting mobile personal alarms with GPS receivers in cell phones.
Zoltar’s founder, Dr. Dan Schlager, M.D., a San Francisco Bay Area emergency physician, was an early advocate of the GPS-enabled cell phone handset. He first saw the urgent need for the technology while flying helicopter emergency-rescue missions with Stanford Lifeflight in the California coastal mountains after his residency in emergency medicine.
Dr. Schlager and William Baringer, Ph.D., an electrical engineer and telecommunications specialist, received Zoltar’s first patent in 1995 on wireless telephony and GPS technology. Zoltar created its first mobile handset product based on this intellectual property in 1996.
Clement J. Driscoll, an independent Los-Angeles based telecommunications and GPS consultant, noted that “Zoltar was an early leader in convincing the Federal Communications Commission to recognize the value of GPS in the mobile handset as a viable way to meet its mandate for emergency-911 wireless services. Initially GPS was not believed to be a practical solution to solving the problem of locating a 911 call from a cell phone.”
Former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Chief of Staff Don Kelly observed that Drs. Schlager and Baringer “exemplify the savvy, passion and sheer will of pioneering American inventors and innovators. They faced the classic industry challenge of ‘It can’t be done!’, soon followed by ‘Oh, we’ve already done that!’ Not only did they pioneer a lifesaving invention, they convincingly testified before the very Washington Commission that sparked its global adoption despite naysayer opposition.”
Zoltar currently holds five U.S. patents and 15 international patents, with others in the pipeline. The patents focus on a wide range of uses for position-location, wireless communication and alarm-system technology. Zoltar’s earliest patents include technology for cell phones that provide location information to emergency responders.
Dr. Schlager cited the now universal acceptance of GPS in cell phone handsets as the main reason for deciding to auction Zoltar’s patents at this time. “GPS is an important feature in most modern cell phone designs. We won that war,” he said. “GPS location-based service is a key safety feature as it works especially well in rural areas where trauma is most lethal and other locator systems are more likely to fail.”
Dr. Schlager also noted, “There is now a more visible and accessible marketplace to sell one's patents that did not exist just a few years ago. This gives independent inventors a mechanism to be more justly rewarded for their efforts and inventions."
Driscoll, a close observer of the rapidly developing market for wireless communications and GPS–related intellectual property, said, “In addition to major mobile handset manufacturers, this auction should also draw the attention of other significant players in the location-based-services space and major patent aggregators.”
“Zoltar’s history of invention, litigation, licensing and perseverance gives it a solid position in the current IP marketplace,” said Rob Aronoff, managing director of Pluritas. “A leader in creating GPS-enabled, location-based emergency services and the FCC policies mandating those services, Zoltar has licensing agreements with product manufacturers on its technology; and its patent claims are supported by multiple federal court decisions.”
Pluritas Partner Mitch Rosenfeld added: “We believe Zoltar’s battle-tested patents have great value both to operating companies and to contingency law firms and non-practicing entities. Every international player in the cell phone industry should be interested in acquiring them. The auction will make them available to the firm that values them most highly.”
Don Kelly noted: “We should also celebrate the success of the venerable U.S. Patent System that makes it possible for the ‘little guys’ to face down industry giants. I wouldn’t say the playing field is level, but trophies can be won by those who can stay in the game. The Zoltar story should spark screenwriters.”
Zoltar’s intellectual property also includes other GPS-based life-saving devices including man-overboard alerts, invisible fence personal-alert devices, and personal alarm systems using environmental and physiological sensors. Zoltar received its most recent patent for incorporating voice activation of the cell phone to initiate a call for help and provide the callers location. In 1998, the company won the HammacherSchlemmer best new electronic device awards for its prototypes of GPS-enabled devices.
Pluritas is a transaction advisory firm specializing in divestitures, acquisitions, and mergers where intellectual property is a major component of the transaction. Organizations interested in Zoltar’s patent positions and the October 14 auction, should contact Rob Aronoff at Pluritas (415-354-1760, ext. 101).