Lenovo bolsters patent holdings ahead of smartphone surge

Lenovo bought Unwired Planet's patents covering 4G and LTE ahead of closing its Motorola Mobility deal.

Lenovo's move to purchase patents from Unwired Planet for $100 million gives it more protection as it scales its smartphone manufacturing efforts once it closes the Motorola Mobility purchase.

On Thursday, Lenovo said that it acquired 21 patent families owned by Unwired Planet to cover 4G and LTE technologies.

Shares of Unwired Planet soared Friday on the news.

Details of the agreement were a bit sketchy. Lenovo licensed Unwired Planet's patents "for a number of years," and the intellectual property covers "standard essential, implementation, and application layer technology for mobile devices."

For Lenovo, the deal acts as insurance as it ramps its Android smartphone operations. Keep in mind that Lenovo is buying Motorola's manufacturing and brand  from Google, but that patents stay with the search giant. 

Unwired Planet used to be Openwave, which was an early player the mobile Internet. Openwave's products each became private companies---Openwave Mobility and Openwave Messaging---and the intellectual property arm, which has 2,500 patents after the Lenovo sale, became Unwired Planet.