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Fairfax offer may spark bidding war for BlackBerry patents

Published Sep 24th, 2013 9:30PM EDT
BlackBerry Patent Portfolio Bidding War

We may see a lot of action surrounding BlackBerry over the next 60 days while Fairfax Financial conducts its due diligence and while BlackBerry seeks out alternate bids. One particularly interesting thing to watch will be if the Fairfax offer draws any outside interest from companies who are interested in BlackBerry’s patent portfolio, which has an estimated worth of between $2 billion to $3 billion. Chris Marlett, CEO of IP-focused investment bank MDB Capital Group, tells CNN that BlackBerry’s patent portfolio could draw substantial interest because it’s the last major treasure trove of mobile patents that hasn’t been gobbled up by the larger players in the smartphone market.

“At this point, [intellectual property] is such a large percentage of BlackBerbry’s value because their business is falling apart,” Marlett says. “There’s little value for the company’s actual hardware business, given its problems.”

The real question, though, is how much interested buyers would be willing to shell out, especially after Google got burned badly when it significantly overestimated the value of Motorola’s patents. Even so, Marlett can imagine major players in the industry forming a consortium to buy BlackBerry’s patents while agreeing not to use those patents in lawsuits against one another.

“A Team Apple or Team Google, for example, would have the resources to buy these patents,” Marlett explains to CNN. “And then everyone wins if they can come to an agreement for a bunch of folks to license the patents.”

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.