updated 04:30 pm EDT, Mon May 23, 2011
Extent of rights unknown
Apple has acquired rights to over 200 patents and patent applications from Freescale Semiconductor, a report notes. Although assignment of the patents dates back to April 11th, it was only recorded on May 18th, and more recently discovered. Freescale was originally a division of Motorola, dating back to 1949, which also makes it one of the oldest semiconductor makers in the world. Motorola divested itself of Freescale in 2003.
The extent of Apple's rights to the patents is unclear. Apple has only publicly received an "assignment of assignors interest," which gives it a defense against other companies which might later try to make claims. It is unknown therefore whether Apple has secured full title, and whether rights were bought or obtained through other means.
Patently-O argues that a cash buyout is the most likely scenario. Whereas Apple has tens of billions of dollars in cash reserves, Freescale is said to have a debt worth billions of dollars that is now due. Before Apple stepped in, the patents were mortgaged and the release of security interest has yet to be recorded.
What Apple will do with the patents is another ambiguity. The company could simply want them as a defense against future lawsuits. The concepts are said to relate to computers and wireless devices, however, and Apple already handles some chip design in-house to produce its A-series processors.