Apple, Google Are Said to Be Sizing Up Bid for InterDigital

Apple Inc. and Google Inc., 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.

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.

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