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Enterprise Startups

BlackBerry Not Becoming a ‘Patent Troll,’ Says CEO

BlackBerry, which became a household name in the early 2000s for its ubiquituous email devices, is one of the more infamous examples of a pioneer left behind by technological change. Its slide was so pronounced that, as CEO John Chen said in an interview, “Five years ago, you would have thought the company was dead and bankrupt.” Instead, he said, “We’re still here kicking and alive.”

Mr. Chen showed just how alive when it completed a $1.4 billion cash acquisition of Cylance, a company that uses machine learning to prevent cyberattacks on devices, two weeks ago. The deal was the culmination of Mr. Chen’s strategy over the past six years to reinvent BlackBerry as an enterprise software company with a special focus on cybersecurity. BlackBerry has also turned to a more controversial tactic—suing companies for patent infringement—which could give its increasingly important patent licensing business a boost. Last week it sued Twitter for allegedly violating a collection of patents, a year after slapping Facebook with a similar lawsuit.  

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'There’s a fine line to being a troll,' Blackberry CEO John Chen said, 'but we don’t go after it. Otherwise we’d be going after it a lot.'