The worldwide increase of patent applications and the important role patents play in economic development make the management of intellectual property (IP) an important area for many companies. At the same time, the complexity in decision-making and IP process management necessitates a high degree of collaboration between various enterprise divisions such as strategy and policy making and market research. In this paper we present an ongoing case study at a large international automotive manufacturer that is exploring the potential of social software to support patent management. We conducted 31 semi-structured interviews to identify relevant patent processes at the company as well as typical operational problems within these processes. This leads us to derive four propositions on how social software can support patent processes. We conclude by providing an overview of the next steps in our research project. Our results present a first step in understanding the role of emerging social software services in enabling collaborative patent management.