Intel buys up Interdigital wireless patent portfolio

San Diego handset Orange is one of the few operators to back Intel's mobile push

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Chip maker Intel has spent $375m (£240m) buying 1,700 patents from hi-tech firm Interdigital.

The patents cover innovations in different wireless technologies used by both computers and mobile phones.

The deal is designed to help Intel's strategy to get its chips used more widely in handsets.

Intel is one of many firms buying portfolios of patents to help negotiations with rivals in the competitive smartphone market.

Court cases

For its cash, Intel has got a wide range of patents covering many of the technologies found and used in smartphones, laptops and other portable computers.

Since it was founded in the early 1970s, Interdigital worked on ways of sending calls and data via wireless.

It holds patents covering widely used technologies, such as third generation mobile (3G) systems, as well as those that are only now starting to be installed in operator networks.

Intel has long had ambitions to get its chips used in mobiles but has struggled to persuade handset makers to back its plans.

In early June, the UK's Everything Everywhere network became one of the first to launch an Intel-branded smartphone. Called the San Diego, the phone has an Intel single-core Atom Z2460 processor inside it.

Beyond the innovations detailed in the patents, by snapping up the patent portfolio Intel will also bolster its negotiating position among mobile rivals.

Patent disputes have been a significant feature of the mobile market in recent months. Rivals have sought to hobble each other by suing over the technologies used in touch screen phones and tablet computers.

Many phone firms, including Apple, Motorola, Google, HTC and Samsung are all involved in litigation kicked off by patent disputes.

Rivals controlling large numbers of patents have sometimes opted to negotiate rather than sue because tit-for-tat legal action could delay the development and launch of new gadgets.

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