Who Could Apple Buy to Bolster Its Patent Portfolio?

AppleThe famed patent wars in which every mobile company has been involved in the last few months, saw a very interesting twist on August 15 when Google announced that it would buy Motorola.

Google had been until recently the underdog when it came to patents with only about 2000 patents in its portfolio. Now, it came to possess one of the largest patent portfolios with over 20,000 patents and more than 7,500 pending patent applications.

Acquiring Motorola gave Google not only the means to defend Android and its hardware partners against patent lawsuits, but also its own hardware manufacturing arm and possibly a wild card entry to get back into the Digital TV business.

(Read More: Google’s Ace in the Hole: Motorola)

However, the last week hasn’t been very positive for Apple. A German court suspended Apple’s injunction which prevented Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in the European Union, which means that the greatest threat to the iPad 2 is back on the market. Additionally, HTC filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, seeking a ban on almost all Apple products in the U.S.

It seems that the tides have turned against Apple in less than 2 days, though we cannot know the results of any of these lawsuits for sure.

However, many analysts and industry observers seem to agree that Apple needs to further bulk up its patent portfolio. With $76.2 billion in cash, Apple can easily afford to do so.

Here are two potential acquisition targets for Apple, which are already on the block.

1. InterDigital

OK, this one is obvious. After Google lost the Nortel patent portfolio to Apple and Microsoft, rumors indicated that Google was planning to buy InterDigital which held over 8,800 patents related to wireless technology. This caused InterDigital’s stock to jump over 65% in 3 days, but now that the deal is obviously not happening, it’s already down 20%.

Anyways, Apple could probably snag InterDigital and its patents now for less than $4 billion, since Google is out of the race, assuming no one else jumps in.

2. Kodak

This is the other potential acquisition target for Apple. It may seem out of the blue, but Kodak, the camera giant of yore, has close to 1,100 digital imaging patents related to processing and storing digital images. The technology covered by those patents is likely used by almost every digital camera out there, including mobile cameras. Kodak also has loads of other patents, the combined value of which is estimated to be close to $3 billion. It has already sued Apple and RIM for infringement, so it obviously thinks that those patents hold some value.

By buying Kodak, Apple could not only get out of this lawsuit, but also demand licensing fees from other mobile companies like HTC, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

Published by