TiVo has made a major hire with the appointment of IBM executive Marc Ehrlich as senior vice president of patent strategy. The move comes just months after the entertainment technology business recruited Arvin Patel as its chief IP officer and looks to be the first step in a clear effort to boost the company’s IP commercialisation efforts.
Ehrlich spent almost 30 years at IBM first as an engineer before moving to the legal department in 1994 and taking a series of IP-focused roles. Most recently he led the patent licensing and business development legal team responsible for generating IP income. At TiVo he will take charge of all of the IP functions outside of litigation essentially filling the role that Patel had at Rovi before his move to take the top IP job at Technicolor and the company’s acquisition of TiVo (the combined business adopted the latter’s name). “The TiVo IP team is already one of the best in the world but we’re looking to make it even stronger,” Patel told the IAM blog. “I’m looking to turn it into a powerful 21st century commercialisation engine that is capable of driving the growth of the company. Marc is one of the first pieces that will help us move in that direction.”
Ehrlich joins a company with several experienced players in the IP value creation space including patent strategist Courtney Quish (who will now report into the new hire), but Patel indicated that he was still looking to add to the team. “Success in this business is about more than just the guy at the top,” he remarked. “In every business I’ve led, one of my top priorities has been to build a world-class team around me that is aligned with the direction that the company and the market are going.”
Before originally joining Rovi, Patel was head of global IP strategy at IBM where he occasionally worked closely with Ehrlich. “Marc and I worked together on some of our most strategic clients and he was also my assertion attorney on a number of important licensing deals,” he commented.
There’s no doubt that Ehrlich is joining a significant force in the IP licensing world. Most recently TiVo reported IP licensing revenues for the second quarter of $104.2 million, up $36.5 million from Q2 2016 as it signed a series of deals with the likes of Frontier, Foxtel, Funai and TCL. TiVo’s total IP income for financial year 2016 was in excess of $347 million and there is no reason why this amount will be easily beaten in 2017.
Like many businesses TiVo is looking to profit, in IP terms, from technology convergence in a range of sectors. When he joined, Patel told this blog that the company had a clear commitment to grow which he said meant, “opening up new licensing markets and really challenging ourselves to generate value for our shareholders by making the best entertainment-delivery technology available to companies across the many product categories that entertainment touches”.
There could, for instance, be significant IP value creation angles for TiVo in sectors like auto, where infotainment systems are rapidly becoming more sophisticated. Ehrlich’s hire demonstrates that the company is very serious about taking advantage. While many others are finding the current IP monetisation landscape tough, TiVo clearly believes there are serious opportunities out there – and it is putting its money where its mouth is.