Unwired Planet sets sail on patent offensive

The company, previously known as Openwave Systems, completes the sale of its Mediation and Messaging business to focus on licensing and defending its patents.

With patent litigation becoming an increasingly common part of the technology space, the last thing many folks want to see is another company have the sole goal of defending patents. If you're one of those folks, close your eyes.

Unwired Planet, formerly known as Openwave Systems, has completed the sale of its Mediation and Messaging product businesses to Marlin Equity Partners, the company announced today. Now that it has gotten those products out of the way, it plans to focus solely on its patent portfolio.

"Unwired Planet will now be focused exclusively on a multipronged Intellectual Property (IP) strategy that includes licensing and, if necessary, enforcement to protect its patent portfolio of approximately 200 issued U.S. and foreign patents, and approximately 75 pending applications, many of which are considered foundational to mobile communications," the company announced today.

Sometimes called "patent trolls" by critics, companies like Unwired Planet -- which has been offering patent licenses for some time, though not exclusively -- do not create products or services. Instead, the companies wait for another firm to allegedly use one of their patents, then pounce. Allegedly offending companies often choose to license the patent; those that fail to do so are typically brought into a protracted lawsuit.

Unwired Planet's mobile portfolio consists of a host of patents related to "smart devices, cloud technologies, and unified messaging." The company claims to have inked deals with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Microsoft, among others.

In August, when it was known as Openwave Systems, Unwired Planet took aim at Apple and Research In Motion, claiming that the companies violated five of its patents in their mobile devices.

"Before filing these complaints, we approached both of these companies numerous times in an attempt to negotiate a license of our technology with them and did not receive a substantive response," Ken Denman, Openwave's CEO, said in a statement at the time. "In the end, litigation is the only way we can defend our rights against these large companies that have effectively refused to license the use of the technologies we invented, are using today, and are continuing to develop for our customers."