Airbnb Patent Portfolio Analysis

The story of Airbnb has inspired so many startups in Silicon Valley and across the globe. Started from San Fransico in 2008, Airbnb becomes the biggest privately held company in the short-term house rental market where people list their properties for rent on its marketplace. It has operations in over 220 countries and has more than 7 million properties listed on its marketplace.

Since last year, however, the company has been on a roller-costar ride. It had planned to file IPO paperwork in March which was hit by the pandemic. At the time, the company had already been grappling with issues of high spending and involving crime and safety.

Airbnb was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. In the month of March 2020, its revenue generation dropped by 25 percent year-on-year and the company lost $1bn in bookings during the pandemic, shares a report by Wired. The valuation of 12 years old startup also took a plunge and fell to $18 billion from $31 billion at its last funding round in 2017.

Airbnb, however, has started to come back on track with economies opening– global vacation rental booking surged to 127%– and guest opting for longer stays. On July 8th, more than one million nights of future Airbnb stays were booked around the world. Airbnb hit one million marks for the first time since March.

In Aug 2020, Airbnb moved ahead with confidentially filing the S1 document with SEC – the first step for a private company embarking on its journey to go public.

The patent portfolio of Airbnb is going to impact the amount of cash Airbnb will collect at IPO. As per a study by OECD, An additional patent obtained prior to IPO increases the amount collected at IPO about 0.89% in US and 1.06% in Europe.

Also, intangible assets comprise 84% valuation for an S&P 500 company, and 70.5% for an average US company. So, let’s have a look at the patent portfolio of Airbnb is comprised of.

Overview of Airbnb’s Patent Portfolio

Airbnb has a total of 192 patents in its worldwide patent portfolio which belong to 56 unique patent families. 173 out of 192 are utility patents and 19 are design patents. The patent portfolio of Airbnb is distributed across 16 geographies with the maximum number of patents in the US followed by Chine, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Canada. 71/74 patents of Airbnb in the US are on security with a bank or a financial institution.

The exhibit below provides a country-wide detail of the legal status of Airbnb’s patent portfolio. Airbnb has 162 alive patents while 30 of its patent documents have been abandoned. 23 out of these 30 patents are WIPO application and rest 7 belong to their US (1), Australia (3), Israel (1), and European (2) patent portfolio.

Filing Trend of Airbnb Patent Applications

Technological Profile of Airbnb Patent Portfolio

To find the technological features of Airbnb patent portfolio, we categorized patents based on CPC analysis. The number in exhibits of this report represents the number of patent families classified in a CPC. A patent family is a group of patent documents – globally or in a jurisdiction – that covers the same (or similar) information.

The patent portfolio of Airbnb has 54 patent families which are classified into 260 CPCs. We analyzed these CPCs to understand the technological profile of Airbnb’s patent portfolio. To let you know, more often a single patent gets classified into more than 10 CPCs which is the cause of the number of patent families categorized under different technology clusters exceeding the number of patent families which is 54.

The exhibit below represents the technological clusters of Airbnb’s patents. About 55% of Airbnb’s patents are focused on Data Processing techniques, 14.2% of Wireless communication networks, 13% on Digital Signal Transmission, 10% of Computer Systems, and rest on Educational Appliances and Building Constructions.

Airbnb Patent Portfolio: Data Processing Systems Patents

101/260 patent families of Airbnb are categorized under Data Processing Systems that are especially focused on managing, promoting, or practicing commercial or financial activities. This technology cluster consists of Airbnb patent families focused on its core service – Online Booking System. 38.84% of Airbnb’s patent families fall under this technology cluster.

Features like predicting demand based on the price of a time-expiring inventory, property listing, contextual calendar reminders, determining the preferences of hosts, ranking listed properties based on factors like prices and other preferences of a user are covered in the technology cluster.

The exhibit below represents the technological profile of Airbnb patent families in Data Processing Systems.

Airbnb Patent Portfolio: Digital Data Processing Patents

39/260 patent families of Airbnb (15%) are categorized under Digital Data Processing technologies. This technology cluster covers patent families focused on performing automated operations by classifying, analyzing, monitoring, or carrying out calculations on the data.

Airbnb inventions on building recommendations or ranking engines, determining host preferences, neural network models, etc that require calculation on data are classified under this technology cluster. The exhibit below gives full detail of different digital data processing techniques used by Airbnb.

Airbnb Patent Portfolio: Transmission of Digital Information

34/260 patent families of Airbnb (13%) are categorized under the Digital Information Transmission tech cluster which covers inventions focused on digital signal transmission. 19 out of these 34 patent families are focused on Communication Protocols, 7 on Architecture for Network Security, 5 on Packets Routing, and 3 on Cryptographic Mechanism. The exhibit below gives one level of deeper details on Airbnb’s digital signal transmission cluster.

Airbnb Patent Portfolio: Wireless Communication Networks Patents

37/260 patent families of Airbnb fall under wireless communication networks among which 25 patent families are focused on services adapted for wireless networks, 8 on network devices, and 4 on Security Arrangements.

Airbnb Patent Portfolio: Data Recognition, Building Construction, and Educational Appliances Patents

Rest 21/260 patent families of Airbnb are focused on Data Recognition (3 families), Building Construction (3 families), Handling Valuable Documents (3 families), and Educational Appliances (3 families) technology cluster.

These tech clusters cover the below mentioned Aibnb’s inventions:

  • Data Recognition and Handling Valuable Documents cover Airbnb’s invention on verification of identity to detect fake identification cards.
  • General Building Construction cluster covers Airbnb’s invention of the Reusable Modular Housing System.
  • Educational Appliances are on Airbnb’s inventions for objectively determining one or more experts about specific categories of venues/events in a geographic region.

Airbnb Patent Portfolio: Computer Systems (Machine Learning, Neural Network, Knowledge-Based Models)


28/260 patent families of Airbnb are categorized under Computer Systems that are based on a specific computational model like Machine Learning, Quantum Computing, etc. 

Updated on September 30, 2020

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