The Financial Post reported yesterday that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is still pursuing a purchase of BlackBerry Ltd. BlackBerry has flirted with the idea of possibly selling a portion of its patents in recent years; however, an outright sale would be an interesting option for the company. Presumably, Samsung could build on BlackBerry’s extensive patented technologies, and possibly continue to commercialize products under the famous BlackBerry brand.
Envision IP reported this week that Samsung Electronics, one of the top US patent recipients in 2014, received roughly 5,000 U.S patents last year. Of these, fewer than 10% were software and methods-related patents, with the vast majority of the company’s patents directed towards hardware and apparatus-based components.
We took a close look at BlackBerry’s current US portfolio, which contains 7,266 active patents, to determine what types of patents Samsung Electronics may gain from a purchase. BlackBerry’s renewed focus in recent years has been on enterprise technologies, its proprietary messaging service, and business and consumer software and applications. BlackBerry owns 1,355 patents in various software and methods-related classes (700-708, 715, 717, and 902). 73 of these patents are specifically in class 705, which is designated as the “business methods” class by the USPTO.
The below chart shows BlackBerry’s patent coverage among various technology focus areas.
The company owns nearly 2,000 US patents related to enterprise mobile management (EMM). These patents cover, for example, network server and load management, distributed firmware upgrades, centralized data collection and analysis, and content distribution and tracking within a network.
Over 1,100 patents relate to operating system and application software, including 169 patents originally owned/filed for by QNX Software Systems, which BlackBerry acquired in 2010.
Over 1,000 patents relate to messaging and communication technologies, fueling BlackBerry’s proprietary BBM platform. These patents cover various aspects of secure messaging, instant messaging, contact management, message routing, and unified messaging technologies.
Finally, nearly 1,000 patents relate to security and authentication technologies, at the device, application, and network levels. These patents cover password management, encryption, and data decoding/encoding technologies.
It is important to note that the patent breakdown above is not mutually exclusive, and many technology areas have overlapping patents, as would be expected. For example, many security related patents are also relevant to EMM and BBM, and are reflected in those the patent counts for those technology areas.
BlackBerry’s patent portfolio may complement Samsung Electronics’ portfolio well. Samsung’s patenting focus is heavily geared towards devices, with the majority of its patents related to physical hardware – displays, chipsets, antennas, housings, and manufacturing-related technologies relevant to its products. BlackBerry’s extensive patent protection in the above areas may prove lucrative to Samsung, not only for defensive patent protection purposes, but also for further commercialization in information security, enterprise-focused products, and connected devices powered by cloud technology.