Joff Wild

Further proof of Blackberry’s enhanced IP monetisation programme has emerged in court documents submitted on 21st December 2015 at the Cook County Court in Chicago and seen by IAM. Exhibits relating to a complaint about the non-payment of bonuses, filed by ex-Ocean Tomo managing director Michael Friedman against the firm, its CEO James Malackowski and the head of the firm’s Expert Services division Andrew Carter, reveal that Friedman and Ocean Tomo recently worked on a sale of patents by the Canadian telecoms and wireless company to investment firm Centerbridge Partners.

Although the particulars of the transaction – which closed in the last quarter of 2015 - are not detailed in either the complaint itself or the supporting materials, I understand that the portfolio concerned covers USB power patents and that it will be monetised via a specially constructed vehicle which will be under the management of Craig Thompson, former senior VP of IP at Alcatel-Lucent, and Ozer Teitelbaum, the company’s former director of IP strategy. Both were among those let go by Alcatel-Lucent in a round of lay-offs implemented early last year. I further understand that the value of the deal to Blackberry could be as much as $50 million. In the documents submitted with the Friedman complaint, it is evident that Ocean Tomo billed in excess of $2 million for the work it did on the transaction.

Details of this sale have not been made public by Blackberry, but it follows on from a high-profile licensing agreement with Cisco, signed in June, under which the Silicon Valley-based business will pay Blackberry ongoing royalties. In September, meanwhile, the company’s CEO John Chen talked about monetisation of its 44,000-strong patent portfolio as being “an important aspect of our turnaround”. In 2013 we revealed that a leading Canadian bank had doubled its valuation of the Blackberry patent portfolio after it featured in the inaugural US Patent 100 published by IAM in conjunction with MDB Capital.