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Inside BlackBerry’s Program to Monetize Its Patents

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 4:56 p.m. ET

BlackBerry owns over 40,000 patents

Although BlackBerry (BB) wasn’t featured on the list of companies leading the race to patent blockchain ideas, it does feature a massive patent portfolio. The company owns more than 40,000 patents, which it allows other companies to use in their products and services for a fee. 

BlackBerry has sued several companies for alleged patent infringements in the last few years. One of these companies is Nokia (NOK), which BlackBerry asserts has used several patents in its mobile networking products without permission.

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Nokia won’t challenge BlackBerry patent claims

In what is viewed as a victory for BlackBerry, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (or PTAB) noted in August that Nokia wouldn’t challenge several of BlackBerry’s patent claims against it. BlackBerry case against Nokia continues, however.

BlackBerry has also sued Google (GOOGL), Facebook (FB), and Snap (SNAP), claiming patent violations. In a setback to BlackBerry, these companies have succeeded in narrowing BlackBerry’s patent claims against them, but the cases are not yet resolved.

Patent revenues almost doubled

Prevailing in these patent disputes would be a huge boost to BlackBerry’s efforts to monetize its patent holdings. The patent licensing business generated $63.0 million in revenues for BlackBerry in its first quarter of fiscal 2019, which ended in May. Its patent revenues have nearly doubled year-over-year and accounted for 30.0% of BlackBerry’s overall revenues in the quarter.

In July, IBM (IBM) was granted $83.0 million in a patent infringement case against Groupon. IBM is one of the companies leading the race to patent blockchain ideas. It has submitted 89 blockchain patent applications, putting it only behind Alibaba’s (BABA) 90 blockchain patent applications. Mastercard (MA) ranks third with 80 patent filings tied to blockchain technology.

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