Intel has spent $375 million today. On a new chip factory? A new
fabrication plant? R&D? Nope. Patents. Lots, and lots, of patents.
With IP litigation in the technology realm reaching crazy new heights
(just look at Samsung vs. Apple for instance), the one that tech
companies suddenly crave are patents. The more you have, the less likely
you are to get sued; and if you are sued, the more likely you are to
have some ammunition.
InterDigital is largely viewed as a patent house that simply collects
patents, and then tries to strongarm major companies into forking out
absurd licensing fees or just suing them altogether. There are two sides
to each story, of course, but the track record speaks for itself.
Today, InterDigital sold around 1,700 patents to Intel for $375 million.
For those wondering, most of the patents surround 3G, LTE and 802.11 --
in other words, wireless patents. InterDigital is an active developer
of advanced wireless technologies
including WCDMA (Wideband CDMA), HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet
Access) and HSUPA (High Speed Upload Packet Access) 3G technologies as
well as LTE (Long Term Evolution) and LTE-Advanced 4G technologies.
Intel obviously wouldn't mind owning some of that property itself, and
instead of waiting for a suit, they simply ponied up.
The companies expect the transaction to be completed in third quarter
2012, subject to customary closing conditions and any required
regulatory approvals. Will this spearhead any innovation at Intel
? Probably not, but it just might stop a lawsuit.