What The InterDigital Patent Sale Means For Your Other Investments

| About: InterDigital, Inc. (IDCC)
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The sale by Interdigital (NASDAQ:IDCC) of WiFi, 3G and LTE patents that are part of industry standards to Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is good news for holders of shares well beyond IDCC.

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) decision to use the standards-related patents it got from Motorola against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and others has cast a pall over the standards process. Patented inventions are supposed to be offered under Fair, Reasonable And Non Discriminatory (or FRAND) terms, and Google has broken that covenant. Thus, many companies in the mobile space had reason to fear that patent holders, including companies called "trolls" that have no stake in the industries they attack in court, might move against the industry.

This deal reduces that risk substantially. Given the price of roughly $220,000 per patent, less than a third of the price paid for Nortel's patent portfolio last year, there is also the hope that the patent wars may soon fade from memory.

Recent court decisions against FRAND patent claims, and against patent plaintiffs generally, may allow mobile technology companies to concentrate on growing their businesses rather than defending their right to exist in the market. That can't be anything but a good thing.

For its part Intel has never been a heavy patent litigant, and while it is not a member of the Open Invention Network -- a patent pool aimed at defending Linux from patent attacks -- it is on record against the use of FRAND patents in offensive litigation and says the IDCC patents only "support strategic investments in the mobile segment," which most take to mean engineers and not lawyers.

Hot Hardware indicates Intel's reputation among the patent-watching community is much more positive than IDCC's. With judges having also taken the question of "willfulness" in patent infringement cases out of juries' hands, it could be that patent peace in our time is approaching.

Disclosure: I am long INTC, AAPL, GOOG.