09.20.17

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Mark Kokes, the Man Behind BlackBerry’s Patent Aggression, Leaves the Company

Posted in Patents at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

He’ll be biking his scooter somewhere else

Mark Kokes

Summary: The man behind the patent troll-like behaviour of BlackBerry is leaving

DURING the weekend we wrote about BlackBerry becoming more like a patent troll. It was far from the first time we dabbled in this subject; we had been covering that for years.

BlackBerry’s patent deal was still in the news on Monday, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This non-story (press release) simply refused to die.

But then, the following day, IAM said that the man behind this strategy was leaving. To quote:

Mark Kokes has left BlackBerry and is no longer its senior vice president of intellectual property, licensing & standards, IAM has learned. In a sudden move, Kokes departed in mid-August and is not thought to have taken another position. For its part, BlackBerry does not seem to have appointed a direct replacement. In a recent press release announcing that Timex had entered into a patent-based agreement with the company, reaction from BlackBerry came from senior director of intellectual property licensing, Jerald Gnuschke.

Kokes is the third big name corporate IP departure in the space of just a month, following Allen Lo’s move from Google to Facebook and Brian Hinman’s decision to leave Philips.

A non-lawyer with an engineering background, as well as the holder of six granted patents, Kokes joined BlackBerry in June 2014 from InterTrust. After a year spent largely on strategic planning and internal reorganisation, including building a transactions team from scratch, he made his first big splash in June 2015, when BlackBerry announced a royalty-bearing licence deal with Cisco. Others with Canon and International Game Technology followed soon afterwards, as did the company’s first forays into the courts – with a suit launched against Avaya in Texas in July 2016, followed by others against the likes of Nokia and BLU. On the sales side, meanwhile, patents were transferred to Centerbridge Partners and Chinese mobile company Oppo, among others.

Might BlackBerry be wise enough to change strategy after the departure of Kokes? We certainly hope so.

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