HTC Looking to Strike Deal, Google and Apple Likely to Drive Up Price of Patent Acquisitions
Bloomberg reports that HTC has expressed willingness to strike a deal with Apple in the patent dispute between the two companies that has seen Apple score an initial victory in front of the U.S. International Trade Commission while HTC has increased its firepower by acquiring a company that had already won a decision against Apple.
“We have to sit down and figure it out,” Winston Yung, chief financial officer of the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company, said by phone today. “We’re open to having discussions.”Meanwhile, Bloomberg notes in a separate report that the battle between Apple and Google in the patent market is continuing to heat up following Apple's $2.6 billion contribution to a consortium that outbid Google to obtain Nortel's patent portfolio for a total of $4.5 billion. The new report indicates that with Google and Apple both considering bidding for the patent assets of mobile technology firm InterDigital, the eventual sale price for that company may come at a 50% premium over its already-high levels.
HTC on July 6 announced a $300 million deal to buy S3 Graphics Co., less than a week after that company won an ITC ruling against Apple over two patents. In a July 15 initial determination, the same commission ruled in Apple’s favor on two other patents.
“We are open to all sorts of solutions, as long as the solution and the terms are fair and reasonable,” Yung said. “On and off we’ve had discussions with Apple, even before the initial determination came out.”
InterDigital, whose engineers invented some of the technology for high-speed mobile phone networks now used by the world’s biggest handset makers, has gained $1.4 billion since saying last week it hired banks to explore options including a sale. The $3.2 billion company, based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, may cost more than $5 billion, Algorithm Capital and Dougherty & Co. said. That would be the most expensive deal in the wireless equipment industry relative to earnings in more than a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.InterDigital holds 8,800 patents, about 15% of which are said to be related to mobile phone technologies and some of which have not been licensed, which increases their value. Some analysts have said that those wireless patents may indeed be worth more than Nortel's 4G LTE patents included in the package sold to the Apple consortium.