Navigating the Patent Landscape to Unravel Cisco’s Game-Changing Acquisition of Splunk

September 26th, 2023 ‧ 4 min read

Cisco’s recent announcement to acquire Splunk for $28 billion is not just another headline—it signifies a strategic move in the fast-paced world of AI-driven cybersecurity. As such high-caliber deals come to light, they shed insight into the intricate play of technologies, patents, and future-focused strategies.

The power of patent analysis becomes evident in understanding these industry-shaking moves. In this article, we’ll explore the underpinnings of the Cisco-Splunk merger, showcasing how Patentcloud’s patent analysis offers a unique lens to decode the motivations, strategies, and potential trajectories of such significant industry events.

Key Highlights

  • US-Centric Patent Strategy: Splunk centralizes its patent focus in the U.S, a prime tech hub, boasting a portfolio of 1,887 patent assets.
  • Innovative Security & Analytics: Over half of Splunk’s patents revolve around IT security automation and cloud security, emphasizing the company’s leadership in the data analytics domain.
  • Splunk vs. Cisco Patent Power: Splunk showcases superior patent quality, with many patents ranked AA or above, outclassing Cisco in the same sector.
  • Alignment and Synergy: Cisco aligns closely with Splunk’s technological direction, amplifying the merger’s potential for innovative collaborations in network security.

Table of contents

Splunk’s Global Patent Portfolio: Anchored in the US

Splunk’s patent strategy focuses on prioritizing and protecting its innovations in the US market, a key technology hub. This approach underlines the company’s commitment to remain competitive and innovative within the dynamic US analytics and data solutions sector. Splunk strategically centers its patent efforts in the US while maintaining a diverse presence across 13 global regions. Their portfolio of 1,887 patent assets emphasizes breadth and duration, ensuring protection that spans decades.

Source: Due Diligence

Pioneering Security and Data Analytics Solutions

Splunk’s patent portfolio emphasizes advanced digital security and data analytics. Notably, 59.8% is dedicated to IT security automation, with 9.3% focusing on cloud security. Additionally, 5.1% pertains to protocol-based data capture, while data analytics/machine learning and 3D visualization both constitute 3.5%. This underscores Splunk’s innovative stance on data tools and visualization.

Source: Due Diligence

Splunk’s Patent Portfolio Exhibits Outvalue Cisco’s

Cisco’s patent strength in the same technical field sees a minority ranking at A or above. In contrast, a significant portion of Splunk’s patents excel, being ranked at AA or above. This highlights the premium quality and potential value Splunk contributes to the merger in this sector.

Source: Due Diligence

Cisco is One of Splunk’s Major Technology Followers

Cisco emerges prominently as a major follower of Splunk’s innovations, indicating a strong alignment in technological vision and direction. This suggests potential synergies between the two entities and points towards strategic opportunities that may arise from this alignment.

Synergy: “AI Behavior Analytics” & “Network Assurance”

Splunk patent family:
Earliest priority date: 2015/08/31
Family Size: 49 patents (Largest family of Splunk patents)
Active members: 47 patents
Jurisdiction: US

Highest Patent Value Rank: AA
Top potential targets: Cisco, Microsoft, Symantec, 

Highest Patent Quality Rank: C
Patents w/ novelty Issue: 16
Double patenting issue: 16
Patents w/ eligibility issue: 14

Source: Due Diligence

This alignment between Cisco’s and Splunk’s patents accentuates the strategic value of the merger, bringing to light the synergies and potential collaborative opportunities in the domain of network security.

The merger promises a future where networks are not just reactive but proactive, adapting in real-time to behaviors and patterns. “AI behavior analytics” ensures that the network understands the actions and intentions of its users and devices, leading to personalized experiences and heightened security. Meanwhile, “network assurance” guarantees a stable, reliable, and high-performing network infrastructure, fortified by Splunk’s capture and security capabilities and enhanced by Cisco’s pattern detection and prediction.

Quality Insights

Splunk Behavior Analytics Patent

Utilizing Patentcloud’s Quality Insights, we evaluated the patent family encompassing US9516053B1. Notably:

  • The prior art patent, US20140165207, was abandoned, negating current quality risks to US9516053B1.
  • LIGHT CYBER LTD’s acquisition by Palo Alto Networks, a Cisco competitor, highlights the strategic value in this tech domain and the intricate competitor relations.
    Source: Quality Insights

    For All Family Members

    The commercialization of the patented technology faces potential patent risks from LightCyber and its parent company, Palo Alto Networks(acquired in 2017). Another potential patent threat comes from McAfee Inc.

Quick Takeaways

  • Market Strategy: Splunk’s patent strategy prioritizes the U.S., signaling its focus on one of the key technology hubs.
  • Patent Strength: Through the Patent Summary feature, we highlighted Splunk’s dominance in “information technology and security application automation architecture”.
  • Comparative Analysis: Splunk exhibits higher patent quality than Cisco within the same technical field.
  • Potential Collaboration: Cisco emerges as a major follower, suggesting potential avenues for collaboration or competition.
  • Potential Quality Threat: Quality insights reveal LightCyber (acquired by Palo Alto Networks) and McAfee Inc. as potential patent risk sources.
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