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Acacia’s 27 New Patent Portfolios Just Tip of the Iceberg

Though best-known for its attempts to enforce patents on streaming, Acacia Research Corp. is expanding its reach with new patent acquisitions that affect a far broader range of technologies. On Dec. 16, the company announced that it had "signed a binding Letter of Intent to acquire the assets of Global Patent Holdings, LLC, a privately held patent holding company…which owns 11 patent licensing companies including TechSearch, LLC," according to the company’s press release.

Among the 27 patent portfolios Acacia acquired in the deal are a number from TechSearch related to data transmission on the Internet, data transmission over satellite and cable broadcast channels, computer-based distance learning, and noise reduction systems for video signals. TechSearch already has been actively and successfully licensing these and other patents since 1997. "We licensed a patent that covers certain online learning or training programs to a number of companies, including UNext (Cardean University), Thomson Learning, WebCT, Blackboard, and Global Knowledge," the comany says on its Web site (). "We settled an action against DirectTV, Hughes Electronics, and Thomson, Inc. relating to patents dealing with data broadcasting and smart cards used in set-top boxes to descramble television signals." The company also has licensed its data transfer patent—which "involves an improved method and apparatus for downloading compressed audio/visual data from a remote server to an end user station for the purpose of decompressing and/or displaying the downloaded data."

While this particular patent doesn’t appear to have streaming applications, the implications of Acacia’s latest acquisition are quite clear. "We’ve announced all along that our strategy is to diversify by purchasing additional patents," says Rod Berman, general counsel for Acacia. "Our hope is, as we move forward, that Acacia is not known as the DMT company, but as the preeminent patent licensing firm."

Acacia, like many other companies, is fighting for a piece of a patent licensing revenue pie expected to amount to $500 billion annually by the end of the decade. Some companies even have moved away from their manufacturing roots to rely on licensing their patents for their sole revenue streaming. Qualcomm, once a major cell phone manufacturer, holds 1,341 patents related to cell phones; 227 million customers worldwide use some form of Qualcomm technology in their cells. According to a presentation on Acacia’s Web site, "Qualcomm generates $900 million per year licensing its CDMA digital cellular patents."

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