Blackberry, the Canadian smartphone company formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM) announced on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, that its board has formed a special committee to explore "strategic alternatives." It’s difficult to imagine a major smartphone competitor buying Blackberry, and the other platforms are well established and defeating Blackberry in the marketplace. So what strategic alternative is the best?
For some time, pundits have been describing the rich IP portfolio of Blackberry. Envision IP reports Blackberry has nearly 4,000 patents assigned to it (including those ultimately obtained in the Nortel deal) and its rate of investment in R&D and patent applications remains high. They feel “while a sale in-part or whole of its patent portfolio may be an option…aggressive licensing and monetization may provide for a [superior] long-term revenue model for BlackBerry.”
IAM Magazine has pointed out Blackberry may well have shot itself in the foot with respect to its best option … licensing its patent portfolio to others to assert against competitors. Just last Spring Blackberry co-authored a submission to the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission encouraging a critical look at the practice of patent privateering, suggesting it is an anti-competitive practice.
This will be interesting for IP valuators to watch...hopefully equally interesting to Blackberry investors.