InterDigital, who does genuine research on wireless technology and then lives off the patent royalties, is going to sell roughly 1,700 patents to Intel for a cool $375 million. Said patents are “primarily related to 3G, LTE and 802.11 technologies.” Considering that Intel picked up Infineon’s wireless unit for $1.4 billion two years ago, it’s telling that Intel is blowing over a third of a billion dollars on what’s essentially legal documents. What’s the company going to do with all these patents? That’s a good question. Right now Intel is desperately trying to enter the mobile space. This month we saw an x86 based smartphone hit the market, but it was built by a company no one really cares about and it was running an old version of Android. When the next Nexus has Intel inside, and Android is tuned to run beautifully on it, then we’ll start talking.
So how will the patents help when it comes to hardware? Intel will probably protect the companies that use their chips from getting sued. Who would be crazy enough to sue Intel? Well, just look at the list of companies that InterDigital has brought to court: Nokia, Huawei, and ZTE, all companies who not only sell mobile phones, but who also have an infrastructure business. We’re not saying Intel is going to start selling cell towers, but they do need some protection when it comes to some basic cellular patents.
Look, we’ve said it many times, and we’ll say it again. This bullshit simply needs to stop. Imagine if that $375 million was poured into a research project or used to hire smart engineers? That’s a much better use of the money. Instead, it’s being thrown into a pit of fire where it’ll never be recovered again.
If you’re a lawyer, you’re probably jumping for joy right now.