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‘Not Just Another G’: Apple’s Intel Purchase Underscores the Sprint to 5G

Earlier this summer, Intel announced that some 8,500 patent assets (i.e., issued patents and pending patent applications) would be auctioned. Approximately 6,000 assets related to 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular standards, while 1,700 assets relate to wireless implementation of cellular standards. According to initial reports from IAM, Intel was hoping to sell these patents separately from the smartphone modem business, although they were open to the possibility that a prospective buyer might seek to acquire both the patent assets and Intel’s smartphone modem business. Shortly after the Intel patent assets were announced as available for sale, Intel abruptly took the assets off the market in favor of negotiating with a single interested suitor. Very quickly, news broke that the negotiations with that unidentified suitor were quite advanced, suggesting that the Intel auction announcement was nothing more than a negotiating ploy to get the unidentified suitor back to the table and for the suitor to realize that they could lose the patent assets if they did not play their hand correctly and misidentified the leverage involved in the negotiation. It has recently come to light that the unidentified suitor for the Intel patent assets was none other than Apple, just as IAM has predicted in its initial reporting. So, now we know that Apple will buy the majority of Intel’s modem business, including the patent assets, for $1 billion. 

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