is the Vice President of Legal, responsible for all IP, Product and Privacy matters at LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, she was a Partner in the Technology Transactions Group at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
The required number of patents in a given playbook varies based on both the size of company of concern and our exposure to it. The general goal of a playbook is to shift the licensing amount purportedly owed by LinkedIn by $20 million to $200 million in our favor. In order to achieve this, we have found that a good playbook should contain between three and 10 patent families, with evidence of use for key patents. The goal of each playbook is to show infringement by the asserter’s products and services exceeding $1 billion revenue. We set specific goals for each one and tested its contents against them.
In this post, we’ll analyze LinkedIn’s patent acquisition process and the results of its targeted buying program. While the increase in LinkedIn’s filings helped to grow the total patent portfolio, challenges remain. First, while organic filings tend to focus on LinkedIn’s core technology and therefore help a great deal with counter-assertion against potential competitors, they are less helpful when it comes to large corporate asserters further outside LinkedIn’s core technology area. Second, the priority dates on all the new filings are recent (after 2011). Earlier priority dates (old inventions) help the most in counter-assertion, but LinkedIn would have had to file for those patents in the 2000s. Fortunately, the market for buying and selling patents is robust and allows companies to fill in where they have weakness in their portfolios. Focused patent buying allowed us to build a counter-assertion portfolio to help bolster any negotiations.
LinkedIn was a rapidly growing company with only 22 patents in its portfolio in 2012, putting itself at high risk for patent assertion. With a revenue reaching nearly $1 billion and a growth of 86%, LinkedIn knew it had to develop a patent strategy to reduce its risk profile. So what was LinkedIn’s patent strategy and how did it increase its patent filings? Let’s start at the beginning… The opportunities for risk mitigation can be divided into two categories: increasing organic filings to address future assertion risk and patent acquisition to address present and near future risk.
In 2012, LinkedIn found itself a potential target for corporate patent asserters. LinkedIn had revenue reaching nearly $1 billion, with growth of 86%, yet owned only 22 patents. However, this changed fundamentally from 2012 to mid-2016, when LinkedIn grew its organic portfolio from 36 to over 1,000 patent assets and purchased more than 900, dramatically reducing its risk profile.