On Monday, January 30th, business news channel CNBC reported that mobile phone app developer Snap Inc. of Venice, CA, had chosen the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for the company’s initial public offering (IPO). CNBC’s reporting indicates that the IPO could value the company at $25 billion. Among Snap’s offerings is the incredibly popular social media app Snapchat, which reportedly passed the number of daily active users (DAUs) enjoyed by Twitter last June with 150 million DAUs.
The world of business news has been greatly anticipating an IPO from the tech sector in recent months and Snap has been one of the private companies at the center of speculation over a public offering. Last November, Reuters had reported on sources which indicated that the company had filed paperwork for an IPO; at that time, a $20 billion to $25 billion valuation for Snap was deemed possible.
Although it seems likely that Snap will seek to secure around $25 billion during its IPO, the company itself doesn’t engage in a great deal of patent filing activity compared to other tech companies. According to analysis of Snap’s patenting activities published last November by CB Insights, a total of 46 U.S. patent applications filed by Snap between 2012 and 2016 were identified; this total is likely short of actual Snap patent application filing numbers during those four years because of the 18-month period it takes before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office publishes filed patent applications. Snap filed a total of 18 U.S. patent applications during both 2014 and 2015. 22 of Snap’s patent applications identified by CB Insights were directed at user interface and user experience inventions but other areas covered by Snap patent applications include automated content curation, network, spectacles as well as object, facial and audio recognition.
Snap’s patent application may not be large but it’s possibly very valuable in protecting the company’s competitive interests against social media giants like Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) Analysis of Snap patents published June 2014 by TechCrunch identified a patent and a separate patent application held by Snap as covering social and visual media technologies incorporated into Facebook’s Slingshot app. Although it’s not clear that any legal dispute between the two was actually simmering, Facebook’s decision to shut down Slingshot and two other Creative Labs apps in December 2015 could be an indication that Slingshot was unable to eat into Snapchat’s market.
The company has also garnered media notice for at least one patent grant covering Spectacles, a head-mounted wearable device developed by Snap. Last November, Business Insider reported on the issue of a patent granted to Snap indicating that the charging ports for Spectacles are exposed when the arms of the glasses device are folded inward.
The parent company of Snapchat is not immune to becoming the target of patent infringement litigation itself. A report last April from the World Intellectual Property Review indicates that an affiliate of Tel Aviv University filed a patent infringement suit against Snap. PACER information indicates that the case, being heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (D. Del.), will have a scheduling conference on February 21st.