Google looking at InterDigital after patent bid loss

The search giant has approached the wireless tech company after losing out in the bidding for patents and patent applications from Nortel Networks, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene
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Google is looking into buying wireless technology company InterDigital after losing out on the bidding in bankruptcy court last month for Nortel Networks' vast patent portfolio, according to The Wall Street Journal.

InterDigital said yesterday that it has hired Evercore Partners and Barclays Capital to consider strategic alternatives for the company, including a sale, based on the skyrocketing valuations for intellectual property rights for wireless technology.

"We continue to be optimistic about the prospects for the company under its current business plan," Terry Clontz, InterDigital's chairman, said in a statement. "That said, over the past year we have seen the value of intellectual property rise substantially as major players in the mobile industry increasingly understand the strategic and economic value of this type of asset."

Nowhere was that more evident than in the bidding for Nortel's 6,000 patents and patent applications, which cover wireless, data networking, optical, and voice technologies, among others. The bidding drew fierce competition, which drove up the price, and ultimately ended with the $4.5 billion winning bid by a consortium that included Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony.

The Journal reported that Google's interest in King of Prussia, Penn.,-based InterDigital led, in part, to the InterDigital's decision to shop itself around. And the newspaper noted that the companies have held discussions in "recent days."

Google's interest presumably comes as it works to bolster the technology for its Android mobile operating system. Patents have become a key strategic asset as companies defend themselves against litigation amid exploding growth in wireless communications.

Google declined to comment on the report.