LONDON, July 21 Google Inc has held
talks about buying U.S. wireless chip technology company
InterDigital to boost its patent portfolio, the Wall
Street Journal said on Thursday, citing people familiar with the
InterDigital, which has a market value of $3.11 billion and
2010 revenues of $395 million, said earlier this week its board
was evaluating strategic alternatives, including a possible sale
of the company or of its patents.
Google is forging ahead in the smartphone market but has
been hampered by a lack of intellectual property in wireless
telephony, which has already exposed it to patent-infringement
lawsuits from rivals including Oracle .
Earlier this month it lost out to a consortium including
Apple , Microsoft and BlackBerry maker Research
in Motion in a $4.5 billion auction of thousands of
telecoms patents belonging to bankrupt group Nortel
"Google must keep trying to buy strategic patent assets,"
said Florian Mueller, intellectual property analyst.
The wireless industry has been embroiled in a wave of patent
suits in recent years as incumbents try to protect their
position against newcomers like Google, which entered the market
three years ago with its Android smartphone software.
Android, used by phone makers including HTC ,
Motorola and Samsung , has rapidly overtaken
Nokia to become the world's most popular smartphone
platform, with about one-third of the market.
Interdigital describes itself as a developer of wireless
technologies and makes most of its money from licensing its
patented technology and from damages it wins in patent lawsuits.
The company holds and licenses around 8,800 mostly
telecommunications patents that range from basic wireless system
designs and processes to increase network coverage to ways of
extending battery life and making more efficient use of
Google did not immediately respond to an email seeking
comment. InterDigital could not be reached for comment outside
regular U.S. business hours.
The Journal said that InterDigital expects to fetch a price
that not only reflects the value of its patents but also the
long-term recurring revenue that stems from licensing patents.
Google and Interdigital have been in touch in recent days
but financial advisers for InterDigital will likely approach a
wide number of technology companies as part of the auction, the
(Reporting by Santosh Nadgir, Tarmo Virki and Georgina Prodhan;
Editing by Greg Mahlich and Jane Merriman)