BlackBerry’s patent strategy head leaves for NantWorks

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The man who was leading BlackBerry’s efforts to make money from its patent portfolio has left to join a health technology company, two sources with knowledge of the move said on Monday.

Mark Kokes left the company last month to join privately held NantWorks. NantWorks was founded in 2011 by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and houses a string of startups looking to transform global health information and develop next-generation pharmaceuticals.

Kokes is the second senior executive to move from BlackBerry to NantWorks this year, following the May announcement that NantHealth Inc, a publicly traded part of NantWorks, had hired BlackBerry’s president for devices and emerging solutions, Ron Louks, as its chief operating officer.

BlackBerry hired Kokes in mid-2014 to lead its patent monetization strategy, as the company looked to turn a trove of foundational technology patents collected in its heyday into hard cash.

BlackBerry’s patent strategy head leaves for NantWorks

In June 2015 the company announced a royalty-bearing license deal with Cisco Systems, followed by others with Canon and International Game Technology. In 2016 it filed infringement suits against Avaya, Nokia and BLU Products.

In its most recent quarterly earnings report, issued last Thursday, BlackBerry said that it had recognized its first revenue from three recent licensing deals with Ford, Timex and BLU.

Licensing fees in the quarter — which also include payments the company receives for BlackBerry-branded phones made and sold by others — were the primary driver of a software sales beat, rising to $56 million from $16 million a year earlier.