InterDigital agreed to sell around 1,700 patents and patent applications related to wireless technologies to chipset giant Intel for $375 million, a move Intel hopes will give it another leg up in mobile.
The patents cover 3G, LTE and 802.11 Wi-Fi technologies. The sale to Intel comes after InterDigital failed to find a buyer for its business amid a surge in market interest for wireless patents. Instead, in January, InterDigital said it would explore selling or licensing some of its patents.
Investors cheered the Intel sale, sending InterDigital's shares up nearly 30 percent in trading shortly after the announcement.
For Intel, the deal is the latest maneuver by the company to bolster its position in wireless as computing moves away from desktop platforms and into mobile. Intel is working to challenge the likes of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Texas Instruments and Nvidia in the smartphone space--firms that have significant traction among the likes of Samsung, HTC and others.
Intel's InterDigital deal is just its latest effort in mobile. In August 2010 Intel agreed to buy Infineon's wireless chipset unit for around $1.4 billion. And Intel has inked deals for Motorola Mobility and ZTE to install its chips on their phones.
"While we believe these new patents acquired from InterDigital should further bolster their [Intel's] position, we do not expect any changes to their wireless strategy as a result of the purchase," Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon wrote in a research note after the deal was announced, according to Reuters.
A number of wireless companies are using patents, and the threat of patent-infringement lawsuits, as a way to bludgeon competitors into licensing agreements. As a result, the value of patents in wireless has skyrocketed. For example, a group of companies including Apple and Microsoft paid $4.5 billion for the patent portfolio of Nortel Networks. And Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola was in part to protect its Android licensees from patent lawsuits.
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