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Motorola buys Sendo's brains

U.K. phone maker Sendo sells 50 patents and its research division to the handset giant.

Motorola is buying U.K.-based competitor Sendo's patents and 200-employee research division in an effort to strengthen its cell phone sales in Europe and elsewhere.

The deal, announced Wednesday, will add 50 existing Sendo patents, plus 40 that are pending, to Motorola's intellectual property portfolio. The researchers will be reassigned to a Motorola division "while preserving the team's focus," the company said in a statement.

Because of 5-year-old Sendo's European roots, Motorola believes the acquisition will improve sales of Motorola handsets on the Continent, where the market is dominated by No. 1 handset maker Nokia, Motorola Mobile Devices President Ron Garriques said.

"We're going to keep up the momentum--and this team will be a vital part of that," Garriques said.

Moreover, the deal signals that Motorola is feeling flush once again, following a downturn last year in handset sales that saw it lose market share to Samsung and other Asian handset makers. Sales of Motorola's popular Razr handset keyed the turnaround and returned the company to its spot as the world's second-largest handset maker, which it lost to Samsung last year.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Last year, Sendo sold about 5 million phones and generated $420 million in revenue, but it is perhaps best known for its legal skirmish with software giant Microsoft. Sendo had sued Microsoft for fraud, alleged theft of trade secrets and alleged unfair competition--claims Microsoft denied. The case, which had been proceeding in a federal court in Texas, has since concluded, with both parties denying "any and all" liability.