Apple and Nokia, along with Qualcomm and several other companies, are still weighing bids for InterDigital Inc in order to scoop up its trove of patents for wireless tech, reports Reuters. The company is up for sale and is proceeding with its auction.
The news that Apple and Nokia are interested in the roughly 8,800 patents available from a purchase of InterDigital isn’t in itself all that surprising. Many have viewed the InterDigital auction as the next big patent hoarding battleground for some time now. The altered variable now is Google’s announcement of its purchase of Motorola Mobility, and its 17,000+ patents, on Monday.
Google has previously been considered very much in the running for the InterDigital patents, even more so after it failed to secure Nortel’s collection of 6,500 wireless-related patents that went to competitors Microsoft and Apple, among others. The question now is whether the Motorola buy has sated Google’s appetite for patents, causing it to remove itself from the running in the InterDigital buy.
Although it would be tempting to say that Google just bit off a multi-billion dollar deal for patents (and a hardware manufacturer) and wouldn’t be going after another large acquisition so soon, there are factors that make it likely for Google to continue its pursuit. There are signs, for instance, that the patents acquired from Motorola might not provide the amount of protection that Google had hoped they would.
Apple has been pursuing legal action against Motorola Mobility for patent infringement despite the perceived protection of its patents for months. It was not deterred then and it is unlikely that it would be deterred in the case of a suit against Google directly over Android.
The InterDigital patents would act as additional armor for Google in any potential patent war and would bolster its patents in the wireless realm significantly, perhaps allowing it to “defend Android” in the way that it says it hoped to with Motorola’s patents.
If Google does indeed enter the auction for InterDigital’s patents formally, you can bet that there will be bidding like you have never seen, especially after the Motorola buy. Apple and Nokia won’t let those patents go without a fight and they, along with a buying group of other companies, have already shown a willingness to go toe-to-toe with Google in patent bidding wars. This should be an interesting auction to watch.
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