With the current uncertainty surrounding the future of BlackBerry and its patent portfolio, Envision IP analyzed the US patent application filing statistics of BlackBerry to understand if the company has continued to innovate and invest resources to R&D efforts in recent years.
Between 2012 and to-date in 2013, BlackBerry filed 1,426 US patent applications. Its filing rate is comparable to Ericsson, with 1,429 filings, and slightly below Microsoft’s 1,527 filings during the same time period. Interestingly, BlackBerry’s patent application filings surpass both Apple and Google, which have large patent portfolios that dwarf BlackBerry’s, and which have a more diversified business than BlackBerry.
In our analysis published this past August, we found that BlackBerry’s patenting activity increased sharply in 2006, and remained at increased levels through 2011.
BlackBerry’s continued emphasis on acquiring patents on its technology indicates that the company is still innovating and pursuing research and development initiatives, even in light of recent downturns in its business. This focus on innovation, despite the company exploring various strategic options, may be a reassuring sign that the company has not given up on its technology.
In stark contrast, companies such as Alcatel-Lucent and Hewlett-Packard, which have comparatively large US patent portfolios (~16,000 and ~24,000 US patents, respectively), filed only a fraction of the US patent applications in 2012 and 2013 that BlackBerry did.
In 2011, Alcatel announced that is would seek strategic options to leverage and monetize its patent portfolio. However, in light of attempting to extract revenue from its established IP, the company appears to have significantly slowed its research and development, and has not aggressively sought to add new technologies to its patent portfolio.
Similarly, Hewlett-Packard announced today that it is seeking buyers for its mobile patents. This may indicate the first of many sales as the company leverages its patent portfolio to boost its financial situation, rather than releasing innovative products and commercializing its IP going forward.