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Coverage of Hon Hai’s recent sale of a portfolio of patents to Google relating to head mounted technology has focused on the latter’s reasons for buying them. More interesting, though, is the fact that Hon Hai has sold them.
Like a number of other major Asian technology companies, Hon Hai has been busily building a substantial and formidable IP arsenal over recent years – both through creating assets in-house and by acquiring them. A sale to Google, which now has a pretty sophisticated acquisition programme of its own, is a validation of that strategy. The fact that Hon Hai chose to announce the deal is significant: “Look we have patents that businesses such as Google want to buy”, the world has been told. That sends out a pretty clear message. And the fact that it was Google that Apple’s long-time supplier did the deal with will not be lost on anyone, least of all Apple.
That Asian companies are getting more actively involved in the IP marketplace is not major news. But outside of Japan, to an extent, up to now they have primarily been buyers rather than sellers. There is little doubt that the buying will continue; however, as their portfolios grow in size and in quality there is every reason to believe that they will also become more active in terms of divestments. After all, there is no reason to keep hold of patents that are not central to your own plans. You can ensure you have the necessary protections in place and then move them onto others who may need them more, while at the same time raising a handy amount of cash. Hon Hai has made it clear that it is now at this stage of its IP development. Others are bound to follow suit.
IP management, Patents, IP business