LinkedIn had a big brand name with a small patent portfolio – a combination that made it vulnerable to attack in 2012, the company decided to do something about it and what has happened here. In a 4-part series, we have taken steps to reduce our risk profile by LinkedIn and how it has developed a patent portfolio, which has increased through the patent offering and targeted patent acquisition strategy. Our 4-part series includes the following.

  1. How and Why LinkedIn learned to love Patent

In 2012, LinkedIn found himself a potential target for corporate patent esters. LinkedIn’s revenue has increased by 86% to about $ 1 billion; so far there are only 22 patents, though it originally changed from 2012 to mid-2016, when LinkedIn patented its biological portfolio with 36 to 1,000 patents. Enhanced properties and bought more than 900, its risk profile dramatically reduced.

Regardless of the patent reform and despite the US Supreme Court decision to be considered negative for patent holders, the corporate-to-corporate patent claim remains an important threat for companies. For the past 10 years, non-Practicing Institutions (NPE) – sometimes referred to as satire in the form of belt troll – have attracted media attention due to cost and legitimate moral indignation on some of their methods. Corporate patent assertions tend to be more dangerous and more expensive than NPE activity and involve a broader category of business solutions. Instances of corporate patent assertions abound example include those involving IBM, Qualcomm, British Telecom, Alcatel- lucent and more recently Blackberry, all which have a patent licensing teams. A critical element to successful defending yourself against such assertions is to have a viable counter-assertion patent portfolio. However, this is something hat many fast-growing start-ups lack.

Behind the many technological advances, start-ups have the inspiration and, of course, focus on building a product and validating the business model. Because of this, patent filing rates for start-up in the high-tech market at least consistent with their inventions and future needs, especially when compared to large reputed companies – usually, starting only to start some patent applications in core-technology areas.

As well as starting a high growth with a successful initial public offering and a small patent portfolio, it could make goals for other companies’ patent claims. Installing companies may face such problems when entering the field where they do not traditionally enter patents or are expanding into international markets.

2. Corporation assertion risk and counter-assertion defense

The risk assertion to LinkedIn comes from operating companies on its direct market ecosystem, those in a extended ecosystem and large corporation patent asserters with large patent portfolios. The market ecosystem includes direct competitors, as well as all the companies with which LinkedIn works. Each of these links is operating in a technology space, like LinkedIn and therefore patents can affect its revenue. Due to close business relations, most of these companies reduce the risk of patent disputes rarely arises because both companies have rooted business relations with each other and other members of the ecosystem. LinkedIn also benefits from an open source culture and participation in that community patent disputes tend to occur far less frequently in open source projects.

However, each of these companies has its own ecosystem of rivals and other companies, with which it works, thereby expanding the ecosystem. The companies that have been withdrawn are from LinkedIn, fewer technology overlaps, and the risk is less that a company will have patents which can be stated against LinkedIn. Exceptions to this rule are major corporate impacts. These can be found almost anywhere in an ecosystem and have large patent portfolios, as well as a history of assertion.

An operation company may choose to assert a patent against LinkedIn with one or more of the following goal:

  • Revenue generation obtain license fees from LinkedIn for using company A’s patented technology.
  • Create freedom to operate obtain license rights to use LinkedIn’s current or future patented technology.
  • Strategic goals or business interference – interfere with LinkedIn’s ability to offer products and services using Company A’s patent.

In a typically high-tech claim between Company A’s and LinkedIn, Company A’s will mainly emphasize to achieve some combination  of the first and second goal given above, although achieving the third goal as a potential additional benefit also wants to accomplishing this, it will accuse that LinkedIn’s products are infringing on their patents, which reflect the revenue generated.

When it comes to patent assertions, the best defense is a good offense. Most high-tech patent disputes are handled under a Cold War-style détente strategy: sue me for patent infringement and I will sue you back. In addition, LinkedIn’s culture – as well as many Silicon Valley companies – is meant to focus competition on the success of the product rather than just patents. However, there are exceptions. The challenge for LinkedIn is a patent portfolio, which is sufficiently large and diverse enough to ensure that it can obtain patents that the Company A – and any other company that is in danger of pushing – can be infringing. As a large portfolio acts as a deterrent, a small portfolio reflects vulnerability. At the end of 2012, LinkedIn was not only required to start entering the growing rate, but also to address the lack of patent through acquisition – a practice known as ‘backfilling’.

3. LinkedIn Patent Strategy

LinkedIn also needed to create its own internal patent team. LinkedIn started taking advantage of outsiders, but faced a cold start problem. There is a need to integrate a successful patent program into a company’s culture and business, and it needs to be invested. Therefore, LinkedIn added its first full-time patent attorney, Pierre Kelly, in 2012 with an experienced patent paralegal, Grace Forker. As soon as the additional headcount was approved, we added another prominent patent lawyer Puneet Saran from Dolby Labs – and included the team with a second quarter of a junior patent attorney. LinkedIn was also required to add its external advice, so we brought an IP Strategy Firm another patent prosecutor firm. Currently, our extensive patent team includes our intellectual property, product and vice president of privacy, Sarah Harrington; Two patent lawyers; A patent paralegal; And sue a patent. To handle the large influx of invention disclosures, we upgraded our tracking system for invention capture, patent application tracking and tracking metadata associated with our overall portfolio.

To handle extra inventions, having executive purchasable and operational capability did not mean that we would get additional inventions disclosure. As mentioned above, invention harvesting sessions have proved to be important for our success. We adopted a white glove service approach to reduce the impact on inventors. We identified the team members needed for a harvesting session and then lowered the preparation time for inventors to close to zero – the main thing was that they show up to discuss their projects.

Generally, five to 10 people from a project gather for one hour and discuss their project, resulting in 5 to 15 inventions disclosure. Prior to conducting a session, the projects will generally continue for two to six months. Before the invention storage sessions inventors were a little nervous, but eventually the sessions were successful. The patent team recognized that the inventors need to be positive for the sessions – it includes clarity how LinkedIn was using its patent portfolio. After one session, one participant commented: “We do not know how the meeting was going. We thought we were going to get beat down by lawyers. Actually, the session was really positive. The patents are going to allow us to continue to operate the open source project.”

LinkedIn needs to address a culture in which some inventors have been patented – and especially software patents – within the negative company, we use protective use of patents and in the way our founders used them to help the wider community was campaigned about, about. A few simple ideas worked well to keep the patent program in the minds of inventors, such as distributing small branded giveaways across the entire company, focusing on items that inventors would keep on their desks.


4. Assertion Risk Mitigation Opportunity through Patent Acquisition

Opportunities for reducing risk can be divided into two categories: To address the risks of future and near future, increase the risk of future risk and increase the biological flaws to address patent acquisition. In this post, we will analyze the results of LinkedIn’s patent acquisition process and its targeted shopping program.

While increasing the filing of LinkedIn helped increase the overall patent portfolio, the challenges still remain. First of all, while biological vulnerabilities focus on the main technique of LinkedIn and therefore helps to make a great deal of counter-claim against potential competitors, when it comes to major corporate disturbances outside the main technology area of ​​LinkedIn So they are less helpful. Secondly, all the new filings have a recent priority date. First priority dates help most in counter-claim, but LinkedIn has to file for those patents in the 2000s. Fortunately, the market is strong for buying and selling patents and companies are allowed to fill in their portfolios in place of weakness. Due to the patent purchase of a patent to help strengthen any negotiation, we were allowed to create a counter-assurance portfolio.

In our experience, the assets most typically used in assertion and counter-assertion negotiations range in age from eight to 16 years from the patent’s priority date. This is also supported by research. Mark Lemley, John Allison and David Schwartz, “Understanding the Realities of Modern Patent Litigation”, 92 *Texas Law Review* 1769 (2014)). Older patents have a chance to be fundamental and pioneering to the industry, as well as to be used by many companies.

This is not to say, including operating companies with an emphasis on patents that are all useful for old patents rivals because most cover technologies between widely ever since eight were or patents which are unimportant to the industry adopted 16 years There, they are still useful enough remaining life for a few years, enough to be adopted by the patent ornaments, yet You can. The importance of older patents is the reason that LinkedIn cannot mitigate today’s patent assertion risk with organic patent filings alone. Due to the eight-year lag from priority date, LinkedIn’s 2012 increases in filings will likely start to make a significant impact in counter-assertion negotiations in 2020.

5. A Prepared Counter-Assertion Strategy

To reduce the identified risk, we need to know how well we were trying to execute this strategy and be prepared to use our patents to protect. If new assets are not organized and are not easily identified when needed, then the value of the portfolio is greatly reduced. We have created a tracking system for LinkedIn’s patent assets, for the concern of the property, the manual is reviewed for applicability and when a new company is identified, it is re-evaluated. Since we know how patents are applicable to specific companies and technologies, we also understand how our portfolios can be applied to other potential patent attacks.


6. Playbook for the company

We create playbooks for the concern of each company, each has a list of patents applied to that company, and it specifies which inventions used in which product has been used Additional information – such as business relationships that can be leveraged in the conversation can also be tracked. If a concern company reaches LinkedIn, then our legal team is ready to respond with a weighted patent for counter-claim.

The number of patents expected in a given playbook is based on both the size of the company and our exposure to it. The general goal of a playbook is to transfer licensing amount from $ 20 million to $ 200 million in our favor by LinkedIn. To achieve this, we have found that a good playbook comprises three to 10 patent families, including evidence of the use of major patents. Each playbook aims to display violations by products and services of over $ 1 billion of the estate’s assets. We set specific goals for each and test its content in their respective areas. In order to help ensure a strong defensive portfolio; LinkedIn has incorporated various techniques of acquisition. In this situation, a new company has allowed some flexibility to emphasize the patent or prevents the creation of an antitrust blocking product.

7. Concrete, successful result

The results of LinkedIn’s patent strategy program are clear. The company has a patent portfolio that allows operating company patent reductions to reduce the risk. Many types of techniques have been included in the portfolio and the priority is a series of years. Consequently, LinkedIn is able to effectively use the patent purchased for completing inbound licensing accused. Both big and small purchases have proved valuable in discussions with corporate impact. Although we cannot share the features, we believe these purchases have received positive ROI.


Sara Harrington is the legal head of intellectual property, product, privacy and Pierre Keeley, and is the patent director in LinkedIn. Kent Richardson and Erik Oliver Richardson are allies of the Oliver Law Group. Note, in December 2016, LinkedIn was launched by Microsoft, Inc. And this series represents pre-purchase patent strategy.