Do licensors dream of a Blackberry portfolio?

Published in IPProPatents

Blackberry expects to earn over $100 million in Q2 2017 from the outsourcing of its licensing portfolio. Doris Spielthenner of Practice Insight explains how.

Blackberry recently announced that it will begin outsourcing the licensing of a large chunk of its giant patent portfolio to the Marconi Group programme, Teletry, which specialises in patent licensing across a broad spectrum of technologies. Along with this outsourcing, BlackBerry will operate its own licensing programme independent from Teletry’s rights.

Although it seems that some key personnel exits from Blackberry’s licensing team may have had some impact on this new setup, one can also speculate that perhaps the new setup was also partly fueled by Blackberry’s earning expectations from its IP licensing. John Chen, CEO of Blackberry, recently stated that they expect over $100 million in Q2 earnings.

It seems that this target is achievable for them. The Teletry team contains some of the most experienced patent licensing experts in the communications sector. Experts that include Kasim Alfalahi, former IP officer of Ericsson; Kirk Dailey, former head of Google and Motorola mobility licensing programs; and former Qualcomm Technology licensing programme manager, Eric Reifschneider, among others. The portfolio is also strong too.

Blackberry has a strong global representation in terms of its relations with law firms and its application flow. The figure below gives a glimpse into a part of its representation.

The portfolio also has a strong application and publication flow, a glimpse of which in terms of PCT applications can be seen in the image above.

The most important aspect, however, is not that the portfolio is growing and well-represented, (although that’s a great sign), the key aspect is that the portfolio is being cited in a high number of new applications from some of the biggest players in the telecommunications, electronic manufacturing, and allied technology areas.

Some of the most recent applications citing Blackberry patents as ‘Highly Relevant’ relate to:

  • Relay association in wireless communication
  • Resolution of collision deadlocks
  • Transmitting physical downlink control channel and uplink data
  • Wireless network scheduling
  • Providing information about time zone of a wireless communication device
  • Establishing a connection between the user equipment and a wireless network
  • Fast channel probing
  • Improving cell-handover speed
  • Identification of a wireless docking station
  • Content transfer within and beyond cellular networks
  • Reminder for emails marked for follow-up
  • Moving ad-hoc network for small cell relay handover
  • Seamless Data transmission during handover

A glance through this list tells us that these are ground-level innovations and therefore highly coveted when it comes to licensing.

“Just in the last six months, Blackberry patents were cited by examiners as ‘Highly Relevant (X)’ prior art for 70 patent filings from heavy hitters such as Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson, and even Samsung, among others.”Doris Spielthenner, general manager at Practice Insight

This is part of the total 200 ‘Highly Relevant’ citation cases for the portfolio over the last year. The larger list of citation cases also includes companies such as Apple, Gemalto, Sony, Google, Bose, and many more. Of course, lead identification is just a small part of licensing, but this is a good indicator of why this portfolio has merit, and why the IP licensing revenue expectation of $100 million can not only be met but perhaps even exceeded.