BlackBerry Should Leverage Patent Portfolio in Seeking Strategic Options

BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, announced today that is was “exploring a potential sale of the company or a joint venture” as part of efforts to explore strategic alternatives for its business.

Envision IP analyzed BlackBerry’s US patent portfolio in 2012, when the company previously announced plants to explore its strategic options.  As of last year, we identified over 3,600 US patents assigned to BlackBerry (Research in Motion) covering wireless technologies, device hardware, operation system software, and various mobile device features and functionality.

After today’s announcement, Envision IP reviewed BlackBerry’s historical US patent application filing trends to understand how the company’s traditional R&D and patenting focus has fared in recent years, and how it may play into any strategic options BlackBerry may consider.

Since 2003, BlackBerry has shown a generally upward trend in patent filings, with a peak of 1,345 filings in 2010, and 1,344 filings in 2011.  In 2012, BlackBerry filed 1,142 US patent applications, however this number could be higher as patent applications publish 18 months after filing.

BlackBerry_Filing_Trends

BlackBerry’s pace of filings is generally comparable to its peers.  BlackBerry’s 2011 US patent application filings of 1,344 topped Google’s 1,312 filings (includes Motorola Mobility), and Nokia’s 1,062 filings.

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BlackBerry’s patent application filing trends show that the company has continued its focus on R&D and innovation, and it has not slowed in its patenting activity.  Given the resources BlackBerry continues to devote to obtaining patents on its technology, we anticipate BlackBerry will carefully explore its IP licensing and enforcement options to generate further revenue from its patent portfolio.  While a sale in-part or whole of its patent portfolio may be an option, we believe that aggressive licensing and monetization may provide for a beneficial long-term revenue model for BlackBerry.

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