Report: Samsung vies with Apple, Google for InterDigital's patents

Samsung is exploring whether to purchase InterDigital's patent portfolio after being approached about a possible bid, according to a Bloomberg report. The news would pit Samsung against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which are both reportedly interested as well. 

Analysts have estimated that InterDigital, which also licenses its technology to others, could fetch $5 billion, and the increased interest reflects the growing importance of patents in the hypercompetitive smartphone market. Samsung's interest in InterDigital could be related to its global patent fight with Apple over smartphone and tablet patents and trademarks. 

Google's interest in InterDigital could stem from its recent failure to acquire patents from Nortel Networks. Google lost out in a patent auction 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's 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.

InterDigital develops and licenses circuitry designs, software and wireless technologies, and said last month it is exploring its strategic options, including a possible sale. InterDigital's stock has a market value of around $1.95 billion, and the firm holds about 8,800 patents and has roughly 10,000 patent applications in process around the world.

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, InterDigital is looking for a price that not only reflects the value of its patents, but the long-term recurring revenue from licensing those patents.  In the past, InterDigital has licensed its patents to Apple, Ericsson, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and others. 

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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