Qualcomm buys major mobile patent portfolio from HP, including Palm patents

Palm Pre

Mobile chip-maker Qualcomm on Thursday announced that it acquired 2,400 issued and pending patents from Hewlett-Packard, including those related to defunct handset maker Palm, which HP acquired in 2010 for $1.2 billion but failed to revive.

The companies announced the deal in a release that did not disclose the price or many other details, beyond the fact that most of the patents were issued in the U.S. and that they cover “technologies that include fundamental mobile operating system techniques.”

The acquisition is likely to have an impact on the ongoing smartphone patent wars, which have taken on a new intensity in light of an Apple-backed consortium’s recent lawsuit campaign against a variety of Android handset makers.

The release does state that the HP deal will add to Qualcomm’s “industry-leading mobile patent portfolio and will enable the company to offer even more value to current and future licensees” — which is another way of saying that other companies operating in the mobile space better duck.

Qualcomm has a controversial history of leveraging its patent portfolio, including a long-running legal battle with Broadcom that led an appeals court to declare that Qualcomm had abused its monopoly over standards-essential “FRAND” patents.

For HP, as my colleague Kevin Tofel recently pointed out, the deal could mean that it recouped at least a good part of its investment in Palm.

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