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The great Intel/Moto patent deal mystery - more details emerge

Last week this blog carried news of reports from India about a decision made by the country’s competition authority to give approval to a proposed purchase of certain Motorola assets by Intel.  The Competition Commission of India has now published its decision. There is not much more in terms of information about the transaction, but uinless the CCI has got things completely wrong it does seem as if some kind of deal does exist. The relevant sections are 1, 2 and 6:

1. On 4th January, 2013, the Competition Commission of India (hereinafter referred to as the “Commission”) received a notice under sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Competition Act, 2002 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) given by Intel Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “Intel”) and Motorola Mobility LLC (hereinafter referred to as “MM LLC”) (hereinafter Intel and MM LLC are collectively referred to as “parties to the combination”). The said notice was given pursuant to execution of an Asset Purchase Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the “APA”) on 5th December, 2012 entered into between Intel and MM LLC.

2. The proposed combination relates to acquisition by Intel of certain assets of MM LLC including non-Indian intellectual property rights which include patents & patent applications; tangible assets of MM LLC located in the US; and rights to hire some US employees of MM LLC, which as stated in the notice relates to the development of technologies used in the components of wireless handheld devices known as cellular baseband processors.

6. As per the details provided in the notice, it is observed that the proposed combination is taking place outside India and has no direct impact on competition in the market for cellular baseband processors in India. It is also observed that the market for cellular baseband processors is competitive on account of presence of major players including Qualcomm, MediaTek, Texas Instruments and Broadcom. It is also observed that the assets of MM LLC which are being acquired by Intel do not presently generate any revenue in India. Therefore, the proposed combination is not likely to give rise to any adverse competition concern in India.

This is all a bit of a mystery. As far as I can tell, neither Moto nor Intel has made any kind of announcement about a transaction; neither does it seem that one has been reported anywhere outside India. However, as point 6 makes clear, what has been approved is not actually taking place in the country and has no impact on markets there; therefore, the only logical conclusion is that it is focused on other parts of the world - probably the US. Of course, it could well be that I am missing something completely obvious that everybody else has picked up on and which has totally passed me by. But I guess it is at least conceivable that the Indian authorities have let slip a proposed deal that has not yet been finalised, but for which Intel and Motorola are seeking competition approval in various jurisdictions prior to closure. The former scenario is most likely (sadly, the IAM blog is not infallible!), but if it does turn out to be the latter, we could be talking about something pretty big.   


Joff Wild
IAM Magazine
05 February 2013

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Competition/antitrust, IP management, Patents, IP business

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