Intel to Auction Cellular Smartphone Patent Portfolio

IAM reported yesterday that Intel had launched an auction for its cellular wireless connectivity patents, for a total of roughly 8,200 patent assets. Intel expects to receive indications of interest by early August, but the move is separate from its efforts to sell its mobile modem business.

(Image credit: Intel)

The patent offering consists of two portfolios. The first one is its cellular portfolio that is compromised of ~6,000 patents related to the 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular standards, and another 1,700 patents dealing with wireless implementation technologies. The second part is the connected device portfolio and consists of 500 patents with “broad applicability across the semiconductor and electronics industries.” IAM notes that Intel would still retain a significant amount of wireless assets after the sale.

While Intel declined to comment on the story, it anticipates receiving non-binding indications of interest by early August. The process is being handled by law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.

This auction is separate (but likely not unrelated) from Intel’s efforts to divest its smartphone modem business. In April, Intel announced its decision to exit the 5G smartphone modem business on the verge of Qualcomm and Apple ending their licensing dispute and reaching a multiyear chipset supply agreement. Hence, Intel did not see a path to clear profitability in that space anymore and immediately decided to exit that space. At the time, Intel said it had not yet decided what it would do with the “world class” modem IP it had created. For instance, the company would be looking at the possibility of continuing 5G development for the IoT and PC segments.

Intel previously expected to launch its XMM 8160 modem in early 2020 and was expected to power Apple’s 2020 5G smartphones. Last fall, Intel became the sole supplier of Apple’s 4G chips. However, 5G remains an important market for Intel on the infrastructure side of the network, where it expects to reach 40% market share by 2022, up from 20% last year.