Interdigital sells tech wireless-technology patents, applications to Intel

Posted: June 20, 2012

Panning the patent gold rush, King of Prussia wireless-technology developer Interdigital Inc. has sold 1,700 patents and patent applications to microprocessor giant Intel Corp. for $375 million cash.

The patents and applications account for about 8 percent of Interdigital's portfolio, and the company expects to replenish the sold patents in about 18 months through new development at engineering labs in King of Prussia, Montreal, San Diego, and Melville, N.Y.

The 1,700 patents and patent applications were related to 3G and LTE technology. The sale does not exhaust the company's available technology in those areas, Scott A. McQuilkin, senior executive vice president of strategy and finance, said Monday, adding, "We have a patent portfolio that is broad and deep."

Intel, meanwhile, is developing microprocessors for smartphones and needs wireless intellectual property.

"When there are assets available, we are looking at them," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said Monday. The Santa Clara, Calif., company owns about 40,000 patents in various parts of the microprocessing industry.

Technology companies are purchasing patent portfolios as both offensive and defensive business strategies, while companies with patents are selling the intellectual property to monetize it.

Google acquired the Motorola smartphone business for $12.5 billion, at least partly to obtain its 17,000 patents. A consortium of Apple and Microsoft has purchased 6,000 wireless patents from Nortel. On June 11, the bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co. filed a court motion seeking to sell 1,100 patents in its imaging systems and services portfolio, considered among its most valuable assets.

Companies purchase patents for the technology and for the legal ammunition against patent-infringement lawsuits, experts say. The more patents a company has in an area of technology, the more insulated it is against those claims.

Realizing their value, Interdigital had said it would consider selling patents, and this was the first major deal, McQuilkin said.

"By executing on our business plan, which has broadened to include patent sales, licensing partnerships, and other possibilities, we see tremendous potential to expand revenue and shareholder value," he said in a statement.

Interdigital's stock soared 27 percent, or $6.20, to close at $29.08 on the news.

Contact Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com.

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