BlackBerry CEO: Patents ‘Important’ For Our Turnaround

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BlackBerry’s massive patent portfolio will play a major role in accelerating its turnaround efforts, said the company’s chief executive, John Chen, on Thursday. Chen noted that the patents will be vital in the Canadian firm’s transition from hardware to a software and enterprise business.

BlackBerry will never be a patent troll

While speaking at the Waterloo Innovation Summit, Chen said that the company holds around 44,000 patents presently and, “The good thing about this is that we also have one of the youngest patent portfolios in the entire industry, so monetization of our patents is an important aspect of our turnaround.” The company has a strategy of monetizing its intellectual property, and it has benefited a lot from it as is reflected in the fiscal first quarter results, in which revenue generated from software and licensing went up by more than 150%.

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BlackBerry’s two new licensing deals played a major role in driving the company’s software revenue for the quarter. One was with Cisco Systems, and the other was with an unnamed party, says Reuters. Chen accepted that the key is to maintain a balance between monetizing via collaborative deals and protecting the patents via lawsuits. If a company tries to go too aggressive, then it becomes a patent troll, and he does not want BlackBerry to earn such a reputation, Chen said.

“If you want to go about monetizing your patents in a non-aggressive, legal way then it takes time,” and in a turnaround phase, this is a something very rare, “so balancing those two is very difficult,” Chen said.

Will continue to innovate

BlackBerry aims to continue with innovation and stay a market leader in secure communications, Chen stressed. Chen acknowledges the fact that at present, the company is not very well off financially and that it does not have a reasonable market share, but he also noted that this does not mean it can’t innovate. The Canadian firm has a tremendous amount of know-how in the field of secure communication and therefore is counting heavily on it.

At the summit, Chen also noted that attracting and retaining good talent is tough when a company is in transition mode. Despite Chen’s encouraging comments, BlackBerry shares closed down 1.17% at $7.57. Year to date, the stock is down by over 31%, and in the last year, shares are down by almost 30%.