Intel, Samsung, Ericsson, and HTC appear to be among several companies considering a possible bid for a huge portfolio of InterDigital patents, much of which is related to high-speed mobile phone networks and devices.
The companies are all reviewing confidential data from InterDigital, Bloomberg on Friday reported. Microsoft and Apple have also examined InterDigital confidential data, Bloomberg reported, citing an unnamed source.
Google has also considered a bid, but now seems to be losing interest after agreeing last month to pay $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility Holdings, which includes both a patent portfolio and a hardware business, Bloomberg reported.
Interest in patent portfolios related to wireless technology has soared as mobile devices have become ubiquitous.
The most significant sign of that interest is July news that a consortium including Apple, Microsoft, EMC, Research In Motion, Sony, and Ericsson combined resources to pay $4.5 billion in cash for a portfolio of over 6,000 patents owned by Nortel Networks.
The consortium beat Google after an intensive bid process that left Google concerned that the winning consortium would use the Nortel patent portfolio to attack its Android-based mobile device technology.
InterDigital, based in King of Prussia, Penn., develops wireless technologies for mobile devices, networks, and services. The company currently has 1,300 U.S. patents and 7,500 international patents, as well as an additional 9,700 patents pending in the U.S. and overseas, as company spokesperson told CRN.
Customers of InterDigital include Samsung, Apple, RIM, HTC, most Japanese smart device manufacturers, some Taiwan-based OEMs, and a number of chipset makers, the spokesperson said. The company has about 300 engineers, and has been in business several decades.
InterDigital in July said it was exploring strategic alternatives, including creating a new corporate strategy or selling the company. That decision was made in the wake of "dramatic" change in how the industry evaluates mobile technology, the InterDigital spokesperson said.
The sale of the Nortel patent portfolio for $4.5 billion caught the eye of many in the industry, including InterDigital, leaving many to wonder how to best manage large patent portfolios, the spokesperson said.
InterDigital itself looked at participating in the bid for the Nortel patents, either via a stand-alone offer or as part of a consortium, but then concluded that the price for those patents was rising too quickly, the spokesperson said.
Potential bidders of the InterDigital portfolio must make their first-round bids within the next two weeks, and were asked to indicate initial interest in the next few days, Bloomberg reported.
In response to a CRN request for more information, Samsung issued a statement which read, “We do not comment on market rumors.”
Intel, Ericsson, HTC, Apple, and Google did not respond to requests for comment. Microsoft said it could not provide a comment by publication time.
Microsoft was not able to provide a response by press time, whileInterDigital