Tech R&D company Interdigital (NASDAQ:IDCC) continues to draw attention to itself and its trove of valuable mobile technology patents by simultaneously irking and alluring major players in the sector. Last week the company put itself on the selling block, hiring teams from Barclays (NYSE:BCS) and Evercore Partners (NYSE:EVR) to explore “strategic alternatives” for its future, foremost among them a potential sale. Valued at $1.2 billion just one year ago, the company is now fielding offers from a group of high profile bidders, including Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), in the range of $4.5-5 billion, with the appreciation attributed to the company’s possession of a highly sought after portfolio of 8,800 patents.
Patents on mobile technologies for smart phones, tablets, and other wireless devices are commanding a high premium these days as tech leaders race to protect themselves against a slew of incoming litigations claiming infringement. Bankrupt former telecommunications giant Nortel held a patent auction last month that raised $4.5 billion in cash thanks to bids from Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and a number of other companies. These patent infringement suits have the potential to cripple a company’s sales and market shares if an injunction is issued against a certain product or technology, as they can have the consequence of barring the guilty party from importing that device into a country or worse.
Interdigital is doing its best to keep the patent race well and going, having just filed a patent infringement claim of its own. The company filed an official complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission today, alleging that Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and two other companies have engaged in unfair trade practices by bringing their products (which infringe on Interdigital patents) into the United States. “InterDigitals complaint with the ITC seeks an exclusion order that would bar from entry into the U.S. any infringing 3G wireless devices (and components) that are imported by or on behalf of Respondents…InterDigitals complaint also seeks a cease and desist order to bar further sales of infringing products that have already been imported into the United States.”
Interdigital is reaping the benefits of ongoing patent wars in considerable fashion, having seen its stock price jump nearly 72% over the past week. With the two biggest names in technology now competing to buyout the company, the stock may surge even higher as the first round of offers comes in, especially given the wealthy nature of its suitors. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has over $76 billion in cash, while Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) nearly $40 billion is no small sum either.