Ericsson hands over 2,000 patents to licensing company suing Apple, Google and RIM

Ericsson has handed over a chunk of its IP to Unwired Planet, a company that used to make mobile software but now negotiates licence fees, best known for its patent fights with some of mobile's biggest names.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Ericsson has given Unwired Planet - a company involved in patent litigation against Apple, RIM, and Google - a stash of 2,185 patents and patent applications it holds.

Formerly known as a mobile software company and called Openwave Systems, Unwired Planet last May shed its remaining product businesses to concentrate on licensing and patent protection. In 2011, Openwave Systems filed a complaint against Apple and RIM at the International Trade Commission, but dropped it last October to focus on legal action against the companies it was pursuing in Delaware. In September last year, the company - by then named Unwired Planet - broadened its claims against Apple and added Google to its list of targets.

Unwired Planet's once small pile of 260 patents now stands at over 2,400 thanks to the deal with Ericsson, which the Swedish company plans to bolster each year between 2014 and 2018 with 100 new patents.

The patent trove includes 753 US patents related to 2G, 3G and LTE technologies, according to Unwired Planet.

Under the terms outlined in a recent Unwired Planet 8-K filing, Ericsson will sell and transfer its portfolio to Unwired Planet in exchange for a portion of the revenues generated from it. Ericsson will receive 20 percent if Unwired nets $100m, 50 percent for revenues between $100m and $500m, and 70 percent for anything above that.

Ericsson's non-cash benefits include licenses for Unwired's "enlarged patent portfolio".  

The Swedish telecoms giant has promised a more aggressive approach to generating IP revenue and last January appointed its first chief IP officer, Kasim Alfalahi, to lead the charge, shortly after exiting its mobile device joint venture with Sony. At the time, Ericsson highlighted plans to boost its IP revenues from 2010 of 4.6bn Swedish Krone ($710m), noting it had more than 90 licence agreements in place. 

After filing a patent suit in the US against Samsung last November, Ericsson said it had over 30,000 patents and 100 licence agreements in place. 

"Following this transaction, Unwired Planet's portfolio will reflect decades of invention at the forefront of mobile infrastructure, handset technologies and over-the-top services. We are pleased to have concluded this business deal with Unwired Planet as an alternative channel for IP licensing," said Ericsson's Alfalahi.

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