Qualcomm Buys Massive Palm, iPaq And Bitfone Patent Portfolio From HP

Is Qualcomm preparing for the revival of the personal digital assistant? The San Diego-based Qualcomm just announced that it has acquired 1,400 patents from HP covering Palm, iPaq and Bitfone patents and pending patents.

It’s unclear how many are from each portfolio, but Qualcomm just made a big leap in owning a chunk of patents covering the fundamentals of mobile operating system techniques.

The price of the sale was not released.

When HP purchased Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion, the move was widely speculated as a patent grab. HP wanted to bulk up on key patents as the computing world was moving increasingly fast towards mobile devices. Qualcomm is seemingly following the same strategy.

Why would Qualcomm want such a massive cache of patents? Beyond the legacy of this portfolio and the importance of any individual patents, it’s all about the numbers. When you’re as large as Qualcomm, your patent armory is like a defense mechanism, not unlike the quills of a porcupine. The more you have, the less likely someone is to cry foul if you’re trying to tip-toe around a patent of theirs — because when you’ve got a monstrous portfolio, chances are strong they’re doing something that violates one of yours. It’s awful, but it’s all part of the game today.

HP went on a tear during the last decade, acquire competitors and smaller companies. On the surface, this portfolio is part of that legacy. Compaq released the first iPaq in 2000 and the company was later purchased by HP in 2002. HP then acquired Bitfone in 2006 and Palm in 2010.

Don’t expect Qualcomm to revive the TouchPad, though. HP unloaded webOS on LG in February 2013.