Helium Isn’t Full of Hot Air

Internet of Things and blockchain-based network provider Helium has raised $111M in a fundraising token sale, led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). A16z was behind investments for many successful cryptocurrency startups, including Coinbase and Dapper Labs. In its funding announcement, a16z cited the efficiency of Helium’s grassroots, peer-to-peer wireless network as a particularly attractive and promising aspect of the startup’s technology. A look at the Patent Forecast® reveals that Helium has another draw — its IP portfolio. Helium has two patents that were granted without any rejections, and a third application is pending. During prosecution, the USPTO noted Helium’s use of a distributed system with proof of network coverage verification as particularly distinct from existing technologies. One of Helium’s patents was filed in April 2020 with a non-publication request, and it’s possible that Helium has other pending applications that are not publicly available. Regardless, its current portfolio is a promising start, especially as it is one of only a few companies patenting blockchain for IoT. Helium’s exclusivity in a still-small space likely contributed to a16z’s decision to invest using some of its $2.2B cryptocurrency fund, and patent data certainly predicts that the investment will pay off. Helium may even be an attractive target for acquisition by companies like ATN International, which operates Geoverse. Geoverse focuses on creating private 5G/LTE networks and has patent assets directed to exchanging wireless services between different providers. Helium’s technology would provide a different approach by using peer hotspots. Keep up with the Cryptocurrency Patent Forecast® to understand how patent portfolios help drive investment and acquisition.