Apple, Google Are Said to Be Among Companies Sizing Up InterDigital Offers

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG), aiming to bolster their patent portfolios, are among companies weighing possible bids for InterDigital Inc., a mobile-phone technology designer, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person declined to be identified because the matter is private. InterDigital, which has about 1,300 patents related to mobile-phone technologies used to transfer information, hired bankers as it considers a sale, the King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based company said in a statement yesterday.

InterDigital joins companies including Nortel Networks Corp. and Eastman Kodak Co. in selling patent portfolios that will help would-be owners defend themselves against allegations of infringement. Google lost in a bid for Nortel’s $4.5 billion portfolio to a group that included Apple and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)

InterDigital’s patents in cellular technology are “deeper and stronger” than Nortel’s, InterDigital Chief Executive Officer William Merritt said in April. The company has a market value of about $3.1 billion.

Evercore Partners Inc. and Barclays Capital will “explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives” that may include a sale, InterDigital said yesterday.

Aaron Zamost, a spokesman for Google, declined to comment, as did Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, and Jack Indekeu, a spokesman for InterDigital.

InterDigital rose $15.41, or 29 percent, to $68.67 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market, after surging 28 percent yesterday. Google, based in Mountain View, California, fell $7.20 to $595.35. Apple rose $10.05, or 2.7 percent, to $386.90.

The Wall Street Journal reported Google’s interest earlier today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey McCracken in New York at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net; Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net.

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