Thursday, 11 February 2016

Nokia and IP again: no great shocks in Q4 and 2015 report

Last week this weblog noted that investment analysts can give advice that has a surprising and unjustifiable impact on a company's share price, if it fails to appreciate the deeper intellectual property context within which a news item is reported. The trigger for that blogpost was the fluctuation of Nokia's share price in the wake of news of the outcome of its patent licence arbitration with Samsung (see "Nokia price fall a "wild overreaction" -- and it's not the first, either", here).

Today saw the publication of the Nokia Corporation Report for Q4 2015 and Full Year 2015, noted by SPi here. What then did the company have to say about intellectual property?

In his CEO Statement, Rajeev Suri said:
"We have said consistently that we believe that our portfolio of innovation and intellectual property is second to none in the industry and that it has significant value that can be monetized. We expect to have further discussions with Samsung related to intellectual property and technology assets that were not covered by the arbitration process and will continue to pursue new licensing opportunities in a variety of sectors over the course of 2016 and beyond".
This fairly upbeat message is somewhat mitigated by a list of "Factors, including risks and uncertainties". These factors "include, but are not limited to ..." some 27 numbered items. Down towards the bottom of this list are the IP bits:
"(23) Nokia Technologies' ability to maintain its existing sources of intellectual property related revenue or establish new sources; 
(24) Nokia Technologies' dependence on a limited number of key licensees that contribute proportionally significant patent licensing income, including the outcome of any pending arbitrations or negotiations; 

(25) Nokia Technologies' dependence on adequate regulatory protection for patented or other proprietary technologies;

(26) Nokia Technologies' ability to execute its plans through business areas such as licensing the Nokia brand and other business ventures, including benefits and plans related to technology innovation and incubation; ..."
These risk-and-uncertainty factors are by no means unique to Nokia and are faced by most high tech operations one way or another. Dependence on a limited number of key licensees is likely to be the biggest headache, but it is at least something that a good data set can address: current and future alternative technologies that might attract key licensees can be picked out via the available patent data, as well as indications that the market itself might be metamorphosing towards fresh products and services, or even dying out.   

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Readers who found this interesting may also like to check out a blogpost from 20 August 2015, "HERE today, gone tomorrow - but still here: the paradox of Nokia", here.

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