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Icahn pushing Motorola Mobility to sell its patents

Billionaire activist investor and Motorola shareholder Carl Icahn says he believes the company's patent portfolio is worth more than Nortel's recently sold intellectual property.

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn thinks Motorola Mobility should sell its valuable patent portfolio.

Carl Icahn CBS

Icahn disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission today that he believes Motorola's patent portfolio has significant value. He said the company should start looking at ways to realize that value given the heightened demand for such intellectual property in the industry, which is Wall Street-speak for potentially selling the patent portfolio.

Motorola issued a statement saying it continuously reviews the company's strategic direction and opportunities, but added that its recent progress has been made partly on the strength of those patents.

His latest push places the spotlight on Motorola Mobility's patent portfolio at a time when intellectual property headlines have popped up throughout the industry. A group of technology companies including Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony purchased Nortel Network's remaining patent portfolio for $4.5 billion, with Apple contributing $2.6 billion to that total.

The need for patents has also been illustrated by the numerous patent battles between the technology companies. Apple, for instance, has legal tangles with HTC and Samsung Electronics, while Oracle is suing Google over the use of Android technology.

Icahn has long agitated for more value from Motorola. He was the chief proponent of the split of Motorola, and eventually got his way when the company split into two entities: Motorola Mobility, which focused on smartphones and television set-top boxes; and Motorola Solutions, which dealt with public-safety radio equipment and mobile enterprise computing devices.

Icahn makes the case that Motorola's patents are even more valuable, especially since some of the technology deals with the white-hot 4G area. He noted that Motorola's patent collection is "substantially larger" than Nortel's portfolio.

Motorola shares rose 12 percent to $25.12 in today's trading session on investor hope that the company take Icahn up on his advice.

The company is still in the midst of its turnaround, although the stock has declined steadily over the past seven months.