InterDigital abandons bid to sell company, may license patents

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InterDigital executives failed to find a buyer for the company but said they may explore selling or licensing some of its patents. The company initiated a strategic review in July amid a boom in the market for mobile patents.

"I strongly believe that we can substantially enhance the value of the enterprise through our continued successful execution of our 3G licensing program and the addition of royalties from our very strong LTE portfolio," InterDigital CEO William Merritt said in a statement. "Moreover, we have identified potential opportunities to further enhance value through targeted sales and/or partnering arrangements involving portions of our large and growing patent portfolio."

Various reports from last summer indicated that a wide range of companies were interested in InterDigital's patents, including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), HTC, Intel, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Samsung. InterDigital never received any formal bids for its entire patent portfolio and sought a price tag of around $3 billion, according to a New York Times report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Merritt said the company's mobile infrastructure patent portfolio as well as patents related to 3G and LTE terminals could be of interest to third parties. Overall, InterDigital said it had 19,500 patents and patent applications as of the end of 2011. Any new patent sales or licensing deals are still weeks away from being finalized and will likely fetch only figures in the low hundreds of millions of dollars at most, the NYT report said.

InterDigital executives announced that they were considering selling the company just weeks after a coalition of six companies, including Apple, Ericsson, Microsoft and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), won Nortel Networks' patent portfolio for $4.5 billion in a bankruptcy auction, outbidding Google and Intel. The winning consortium also included Sony and EMC Corp., the IT storage and cloud computing firm.

For more:
- see this release (PDF)
- see this NYT article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

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