Samsung is the latest name believed to be examining InterDigital’s patents business, a portfolio of almost 9,000 mobile-related patents that the US firm recently put up for sale. According to sources at Bloomberg, Samsung joins other interested bidders including Apple and Google, which could create a bidding war for the portfolio. The patents are used in a range of smartphones, including the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-based devices, and could fetch as much as US$5 billion, say analysts. The patents could also be used as a bargaining tool in the various patent disputes currently underway between various parties, including between Samsung and Apple. “The fight between Apple and Samsung is getting serious, so if the assets go to Apple, it could be pretty risky for Samsung,” Shinyoung Securities analyst Lee Seung Woo told Bloomberg. “To hedge the risk, Samsung could go ahead with bidding, although they may have to pay a big premium.”
InterDigital announced last month that it has “initiated a process to explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives for the company, which may include a sale or other transaction.” InterDigital’s stock has gained 52 percent since its announcement. The company later filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission against Nokia, Huawei and ZTE, alleging that the vendors have imported devices for sale in the US which infringe seven of its US patents. It has also previously been involved in a number of separate cases involving Nokia and Samsung. Google was suggested as the most likely buyer for the InterDigital patents, following its failure to secure the patent portfolio owned by Nortel Networks – which was eventually won by an Apple-led consortium.