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Intel boosts mobile portfolio with InterDigital patents

Intel is acquiring a sizeable chunk of InterDigital's patent portfolio as part of the chip giant's effort to beef up its mobile technology portfolio, the two companies announced this week.

InterDigital will sell about 1,700 wireless technology patents and patent applications to Intel for $375 million (£238 million) in a deal that is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

"These patents will support Intel's strategic investments in the mobile segment. The addition of these patents expands our already large, strong and diverse portfolio of intellectual property," Doug Melamed, Intel senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Intel has been trying to break into the mobile device market for some time. The largest manufacturer of the x86 processors that dominate servers, desktops, and laptops has watched from the sidelines as makers of devices like smartphones and tablets have turned to less power-hungry chips based on the ARM architecture.

The chip giant has positioned its latest Atom-branded, low-power processor platform, code named Medfield, as a competitor to ARM-based System-on-a-Chips (SoCs) made by the likes of Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Nvidia. And Intel has had a taste of success so far, landing the first Intel-based smartphone in the Indian market earlier this year.

Intel is also gearing up for the release of Windows 8, Microsoft's next-generation operating system. Microsoft on Monday unveiled an in-house tablet called Surface that's powered by an Intel Core i5 chip and the longstanding "Wintel" relationship between the two companies could pay dividends for Intel as Microsoft tries to take on Apple and Google in mobile.

InterDigital had been trying to find a buyer for its patent portfolio since January, according to reports.

"The acquisition of this portfolio of InterDigital's technologies by a global technology leader like Intel affirms the efforts of our research and development team which actively shares our innovations with the worldwide standards bodies, defining technologies that are central to the world's major wireless systems and devices," said Scott McQuilkin, senior executive vice president of strategy and finance at InterDigital.

"This transaction, which involves a small portion of our overall patent portfolio, marks an important milestone of InterDigital's stated strategy of expanding the monetisation of its large and growing intellectual property portfolio. By executing on our business plan, which has been broadened to include patent sales, licensing partnerships and other possibilities, we see tremendous potential to expand revenue and build shareholder value," he added.