Report: Nokia, Qualcomm join InterDigital patent fray

Both Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) are interested in acquiring wireless technology and patent firm InterDigital, according to a Reuters report, joining a growing list of companies interested in snatching the firm's valuable patent portfolio.

The report, citing unnamed sources, also said that an auction of InterDigital will be postponed from next week until after Labor Day to give potential bidders more time to conduct due diligence on InterDigital's patents. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Samsung have been named in other reports as companies that are potentially interested in InterDigital, which said last month it is exploring strategic options, including a possible sale.

Since the first round of bids has been postponed, the report said, InterDigital is expected to accelerate any second round of bidding. InterDigital declined to comment, according to Reuters, and representatives from Qualcomm and Nokia declined to comment.

Interestingly, Google has not yet formally withdrawn its interest in InterDigital. On Monday, Google rocked the wireless market with its proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), which caused InterDigital's shares to slump 23 percent. Although some analysts expect Google to eventually use Motorola to manufacture its own Android-based hardware, Google said one of the key justifications for the acquisition is Motorola's portfolio of more than 17,000 patents, many of which relate to wireless standards and non-essential wireless patents, as well as 7,500 patent applications in progress. Google said it would use Motorola's patents to protect the Android ecosystem from patent lawsuits.

Google lost out in a patent auction in early July to a coalition of six companies, including Apple, EMC Corp., Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Sony, for Nortel Networks' patent portfolio. The consortium paid $4.5 billion, and Apple contributed $2.6 billion, though antitrust officials at the Justice Department are reportedly investigating the sale.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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