BARCELONA, Spain--Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor said the company plans to make money off its patent portfolio in the future, comments that indicate Broadcom is following the rest of the wireless industry in looking at new ways to cash in on its intellectual property.
In comments here at the Mobile World Congress trade show, McGregor said Broadcom's patent portfolio has been ranked as the eighth largest among all technology companies, and is No. 2 among semiconductor companies. (McGregor did not provide the source of his analysis, nor did he say which companies rank ahead of Broadcom.)
He said Broadcom currently uses its patents "defensively," or as a way to dissuade rivals from filing patent infringement lawsuits by threatening to file its own patent suits. But McGregor also said Broadcom in the future will look to make money from its portfolio.
"We will look at ways to monetize it [the patent portfolio] over time," he said, without providing details.
McGregor's statements mirror those recently made by Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) CEO, Hans Vestberg, who said Ericsson plans to look at news ways to cashing in on its own patent portfolio. As part of that effort, Ericsson announced its Chief Intellectual Property Officer Kasim Alfalahi will report directly to Vestberg. Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU) also said earlier this month it will open up its patent portfolio for licensing, as did LG.
Patents, particularly in the wireless industry, have generated extra importance in recent years as companies ranging from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to HTC have engaged in costly legal battles in order to assert their patent dominance and obtain patent licensing revenues from rivals. Underscoring the value of the field is the $4.5 billion a consortium recently paid for Nortel Networks' patent portfolio last year, and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), driven in large part by Google's desire to use Motorola's patents as a shield for its Android licensees.
In other Broadcom news, the company announced new chips for smartphones running the 4.0 version of Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. The chips are aimed at "mass market" phones rather than top-of-the-line, and expensive, high-end phones.
Interestingly, although Broadcom currently is targeting Android because its customers are requesting that direction, the company is also hoping to support Microsoft's Windows Phone smartphone operating system as well. "That's a goal we have," explained Robert Rango, executive vice president of Broadcom's mobile and wireless business.
- see this Broadcom release
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