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HTC, Samsung may buy InterDigital; Google backing out [U]

updated 05:55 pm EDT, Fri September 9, 2011

InterDigital may be bought by top Android backers

(Update: clarification on Google role) InterDigital's attempt at a sell-off is getting close and attracting key Android phone makers, insiders claimed Friday. HTC and returning candidate Samsung are considering initial bids when they start in an auction now said to be starting in two weeks. Ericsson and Intel were also involved in the Bloomberg version of events.

Some of them might team together, much as Apple, Microsoft, RIM, and others formed the Rockstar bid group to deny Google patents from Nortel. They wouldn't need to provide detailed breakdowns of their bids.

InterDigital signaled that it was willing to consider a sale in the white-hot climate of smartphone patent wars but has avoided identifying potential candidates. The firm is best known for making its business off of suing others but could make billions cashing out for a company wanting either to attack others or to mount a defense.

An off-hand reference, however, may suggest a larger upheaval. Google is allegedly "backing away" from its $12.5 billion bid for Motorola, according to the sources. Why and how serious it might be weren't said.

If true, a withdrawal could represent one of Google's largest-ever public gaffes. Its decision to buy Motorola was already considered by many to be a knee-jerk reaction to losing out on Novell and Nortel patent bids. M-Cam analyst David Martin went so far as to call it "an immense mistake" where it not only was getting patents that would do little to help but that it now opened itself up to lawsuits from Freescale, which owns some of Motorola's better patents.

It also came even after an FTC investigation had begun and would have raised even more antitrust allegations than exist today.

Reversing course would avoid these problems, but it would also burn Motorola and any hardware partners. Motorola would no longer have the financial backing and direct integration of Google, and partners that had been pushed by Google into making public statements endorsing the Motorola deal would now have done so for no reason. Phone makers might also lose trust in Google knowing that it might change its mind.

Google, InterDigital, and others involved in the stories haven't commented on the authenticity of any of the reports.

Update: A clarification made clear that Google was backing out only of InterDigital because of the Motorola deal, not the Motorola deal itself. We apologize for any confusion.

by MacNN Staff



  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The recently-announced mobile phone suit against Apple by some other company, I think HTC but I could be wrong -- weren't those patents from Motorola by way of Google? If that's the case -- and I admit I could have misread or be misremembering -- what happens to the case against Apple if Google backs out? The patents would no longer belong to the people bringing suit, after all...

  1. dashiel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The patents

    The patents used by HTC by way of Google came from a different acquisition. Google couldn’t legally use/transfer patents from Motorola until the sale has been approved and they officially acquire Moto.

  1. yticolev

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google reneging on Motorola?

    "An off-hand reference, however, may suggest a larger upheaval. Google is allegedly "backing away" from its $12.5 billion bid for Motorola, according to the sources. Why and how serious it might be weren't said."

    Yes, the Bloomberg article is poorly worded, but this is how dumb rumors get started by dumb copy editors. Google is not backing away from buying Motorola, just making a bid on InterDigit. Any careful read of the article says just that.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Even Google's deals are beta-quality

    Its decision to buy Motorola was already considered by many to be a knee-jerk reaction[...]

    And it's just the latest in a long history of knee-jerk reactions. Google bought Android in 2005 to get into the smarphone business. To avoid paying Sun for the fair use of Java, they hacked the JVM and claimed it wasn't Java any more. Between 2007 and 2008 they hastily changed its look and feel from BlackBerry / Palm copy to iPhone clone.

    Google then dumped out a half-finished pad version of Android for pad computers. And earlier this year they closed Honeycomb, essentially giving up on the "open" model which was prone to heavy fragmentation.

    They bought Motorola Mobility without thinking things through, hoping that all those ancient patents would somehow help their defense against lawsuits from Oracle, Apple, Microsoft, and Motorola Mobility itself. Yes, Motorola Mobility was suing Google at the time of the deal. And Motorola Mobility was threatening to sue all other Android handset manufacturers as well.

    And we all thought Motorola Mobility would be Google's hardware b****. Wrong. Motorola Mobility b****-slapped Google into paying 63% more than they were worth at the time. Because Google was vulnerable and had no other option. Two phrases come to mind here: "what the market will bear" and "sucker born every minute."

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