Patent acquisitions often tell interesting stories. For example, by analyzing patent acquisitions we can see what sectors a company is growing into, who else is operating in, and potential licensing deals and royalties within those sectors.
Take the case of Qualcomm. In early 2014, Qualcomm agreed to purchase patent portfolios related to former Palm patents, as well as other Hewlett Packard (HP) patent portfolios related to mobile operating system techniques. The acquisition of patents from HP expanded Qualcomm’s patent portfolios within sectors they did not heavily invest in during 2013. Figure 1 details the patent classes that saw the largest increases from 2013 to 2014.
345 – Computer Graphics Processing And Selective Visual Display Systems
715 – Data Processing: Presentation Processing Of Document, Operator Interface Processing, And Screen Saver Display Processing
361 – Electricity: Electrical Systems And Devices
379 – Telephonic Communications
D14 – Recording, Communication, Or Information Retrieval Equipment
The patents acquired by Qualcomm allow them to compete against other companies in these sectors. Figure 2 highlights those companies most active in each sector. By looking at the companies that have been the most active from 2012-2014 within these classifications, we are also able to see who Qualcomm is potentially planning to compete strongly against, who may have interest in entering into licensing arrangements, or who has acquisition potential. In the case that Qualcomm decides to license out these acquired patents, the value of the potential licensing deals can vary greatly by industry, and it is important to understand the differences when trying to exploit IP in licensing deals. Figure 3 demonstrates the differences between two potential Qualcomm licensing industries.