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BlackBerry reportedly wants to sell majority of its patents

The patents up for sale include IP in areas where BlackBerry was a trailblazer but is no longer a player

BlackBerry is reportedly looking to sell its intellectual property holdings, which could be worth more than US$450 million.

The patents up for sale include IP in areas where BlackBerry was a trailblazer but is no longer a player, such as mobile instant messaging and social collaboration tools. The company has several thousand more patents it is expected to keep because they underlie its current businesses, which include cybersecurity and building computer operating systems for cars.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen is under pressure to maximize the financial performance of the company and the best way to monetize patents that apply to products that you’re no longer developing is to sell them.

BlackBerry generated US$328-million in “licensing and other” revenue last year – over 31 per cent of total sales – and US$1.1-billion over the past five years. The licensing business has remained one of the few bright spots for the business during the COVID-19 pandemic, although the inconsistency and unpredictability of licensing deals mean the business isn’t fully valued by public shareholders.

Industry experts say that a sale of BlackBerry’s patents would deal a blow to Canada’s standing in the global patent ownership rankings at a time when the government has been making initial steps to improve Canada’s poor reputation for commercializing ideas. 

BlackBerry owns more IP than any other company in Canada, and it’s the only domestic firm to rank among the world’s top 100 patent holders.

A BlackBerry spokesperson declined to comment, saying it “does not comment on rumour or speculation.”

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