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  5. Innovation Traits In Tech-Savvy CEO – Jan Koum

Author: Amit Koshal and Prayank Khandelwal

Learn how WhatsApp dominated the Patent World!

One of the most trending messaging applications ‘WhatsApp’ was founded by Jan Koum and Yahoo in 2009. Little did they imagine that this application would permanently revolutionize the way people communicate. 

The success of an application depends on the daily active users it garners. WhatsApp had acquired 400 million users worldwide by 2014. WhatsApp evolved as a social platform and it drew the social media giant, Facebook’s attention which acquired WhatsApp for USD 19.3 billion. In just five years of its launch, the patented idea took both the founders in the billionaires’ club. Such a magnitude of success story was never heard before.

This compels everyone to think, what must have Jan and Yahoo done, to achieve this success? It must be noted that, with the launch of this platform, Koum also brushed himself for many patents on messaging. Koum’s contribution to the patent world has a large impact on the communication sector. Statistically speaking, he has 81 patents filed by himself which dominated the communication sector as a whole. Within the WhatsApp patents, Jan Koum himself has filed 10 patents. WhatsApp proved to be revolutionary because plenty of new techniques came under a single roof and WhatsApp served multiple needs. Before Jan Koum, patents in messaging was an un-chartered territory.

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Figure 1 : Graph of Koum’s Patents

Receiving a grant on the patent application is a complex process. On top of it, every country holds a certain set of regulations and norms under the patent law. The important steps  for getting a grant from the judiciary are – ‘Inventive step.’, ’Industrial application’ and ‘Novelty.’ Since Jan Koum was the only innovator in the digital messaging domain, his patents had a higher probability of securing the grants. The uniqueness of the application reduced the evaluation barriers. The company saw a peak in getting the patents granted, in 2019, while the highest number of patents were filed in 2014, when Facebook took over WhatsApp. Koum’s patents concentrated on a variety of messaging techniques that were missing in this digital messaging sector before WhatsApp. Inventions like – ‘System and method for aggregating communication connections’ (Patent number: US10367892B2), ‘Voice communications with real-time status notifications’(Patent number: TWI638562B), etc. were all rare and unique in the communication industry. Jan Koum’s contributions expanded to phone, multimedia and other forms of  communication as well thereby increasing the applicability of his patents.

            Ideas like group messaging, online calling, uploading media,  were trending but were always dis-connected. No other company implemented them as a single  application. The whole idea of getting all the content under one platform to enable a variety of sources to the consumers was extremely innovative. Jan Koum proved that ideas lead to innovations and to protect one’s ideas, filing patents is quintessential.

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Figure 2 : Technical sub domains of Koum’s inventions

Jan Koum’s impact on the messaging world –

If we look at the category of patents in the digital space, ‘communication’ has a largest share.

In the digital communication segment, WhatsApp leads the way with a series of patents filed by Jan Koum namely, System and method for supplying electronic messages(Patent number – 20070168436)’,‘Method for the secure and timely delivery of large messages over a distributed communication network(Patent number – 20030126303)’, ‘Apparatus and method for managing broadcast message group(Patent number – 20130066984). The total count of WhatsApp’s patents is 77 and this is how Jan Koum has changed the whole dynamics of the messaging world.

 With the highest number of patent trends in ‘Digital Communication’ of course, if we are talking about WhatsApp, Koum launched a series of patents in – ‘System and method for supplying electronic messages(Patent number – 20070168436)’,‘Method for the secure and timely delivery of large messages over a distributed communication network(Patent number – 20030126303)’, ‘Apparatus and method for managing broadcast message group(Patent number – 20130066984)’, etc. From referring to the pie chart shown, with 77 patents in digital communication, Koum changed the dynamics of the messaging world. 

With WhatsApp, Jan Koum provided an advertisement free channel of communication and this opened a pandora’s box for innovative companies to open up new ways of revenue streams. People began to think about Patent Strategy and Patent Management as it became a very crucial task leading to revenue generation for the established companies as well as Startups. At Photon Legal, we not only help startups file patents but also guide and advise on patent strategies. We trust in your ideas and treat your ideas with epitome importance.

Stay safe and innovate.

Source of Data and Graphs – Patseer Platform

Source of banner image – Sccopwhoop

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