Qimonda administrator puts 7,500 patents up for sale

FRANKFURT Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:44am EST

FRANKFURT Nov 22 (Reuters) - The administrator of insolvent German chipmaker Qimonda said on Thursday he had started the sale of more than 7,500 patents.

In the past years, technology companies have invested billions of dollars in buying up patent portfolios that they can use against rivals.

Qimonda, which was spun off from Infineon in 2006, collapsed in 2009 as chip prices plunged and then filed for insolvency after failing to hammer out details of a rescue package in time.

"The intellectual property rights relate to inventions that are relevant for the semiconductor, computer and communications industry," Qimonda's administrator Michael Jaffe said in a statement.

It is the first large chunk of patents to come on the market since one-time photography giant Eastman Kodak put its intellectual property up for sale.

Kodak filed for Chapter 11 protection in January and has said its intellectual property portfolio of roughly 1,100 patents was worth as much as $2.6 billion.

However, bids have been lower than it hoped for, including bids below $500 million from prospective buyers such as Apple Inc and Google Inc.

A spokesman for Qimonda's administrator declined to say anything about the expected value of the patents on sale.

Earlier this year Google bought Motorola Mobility in a $12.5 billion deal aimed at building up an arsenal of patents, while an Apple-led consortium received the go-ahead to purchase a trove of patents from bankrupt Canadian company Nortel Networks

Along with buying patents, technology companies have also ploughed money into litigation in the United States and Europe.

In August, Apple scored a landmark legal victory over Samsung when a U.S. jury found the South Korean company had copied critical features of the iPhone and iPad and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.

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