Tag Archives: InterDigital

IP licensing leader Tessera renamed Xperi Corp in rebranding push

One of the leading public IP licensing companies, or PIPCOs, Tessera Holding Corporation, has changed its name to Xperi Corporation, an indication that it has altered its direction. 

The renaming is an apparent effort to place more emphasis on new lines of business outside of patent licensing after acquiring DTS, as well as facilitate the company’s lagging stock price. Tessera reported disappointing results that surprised Wall Street in late February.

The name change was announced on February 22. On February 23 Tessera/Xperi reported that it had missed its Q4 earnings by $.25 per share.

Stalling Stalwart?

Tessera (TSRA), InterDigital (IDCC) and Rambus (RMBS) have been the lead players among PIPCOs, with industry-leading market values of $2.2B, $2.9B and $1.4B respectively.

Tessera/Xperi (58ae87c857fd3-imageXPER) reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 32 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 25 cents. Also, revenues of $70 million missed the consensus mark.

Following the weak earnings release, share of the leading chip packaging and interconnect solutions provider slipped more than 13% in the after-hours trading. Over the past year, shares of Tessera Technologies underperformed the Zacks categorized Electronics Manufacturing Machinery industry. While the industry gained 27.66%, the stock generated a loss of 2.13%.

TSRA was 44.65 on February 22 with approximately $2.2B market cap. XPER is 35.55 on March 2 with a $1.7B valuation. A 2015 article the investment weekly Barron’s questioned how Tessera accounted for “recurring” revenues, which the publication said were really patent litigation settlements paid out over time, not royalty income.

In May 2016 Vringo changed its name to Form Holdings (FH).

“2016 was a transformational year with the combination of Tessera and DTS, which today we are excited to have rebranded as Xperi, reflecting our new vision of bringing together digital and physical experiences in smart, connected and personalized ways,” said Tom Lacey, Chief Executive Officer.

Acquisition of an Acquisition

On September 20 Tessera Holding announced its $850 million deal to acquire DTS, a premier audio solutions provider for mobile, logo2014_tagstack-sitehead_232x92_2xhome, and automotive markets. Only a year or so before that DTS entered into an agreement to acquire HD Radio developer iBiquity Digital Corp.

Tessera/Xperi says that its technologies and intellectual property are deployed in areas such as premium audio, computational imaging, computer vision, mobile computing and communications, memory, data storage, 3D semiconductor interconnect and packaging.

“We invent smart sight and sound technologies that enhance and help to transform the human connected experience.”

On February 8, 2016 Tessera’s shares were $26.57. They reached $44.74 on December 12, and excellent year by any standard, but closed flat at $44.65 on February 22. Since then its shares are down by $9 or about 20%.

On Yahoo! Finance, TSRA, the old stock symbol, shows the price of shares at the close of the session on February 22. A Google search of TSRA takes you to the new stock symbol for the company, XPER, which shows an end of Friday price of $35.10.

Image source: HDradio.com; zacks.com

InterDigital leads PIPX public IP stock index to a 44.9% gain for 2016

The PIPX public IP licensing company stock index soared to a 44.9% increase in 2016, led by an impressive 86.3% move for InterDigital.

With a market capital in excess of $3 billion, InterDigtal (IDCC) led the value weighted PIPX with another stellar performance.  Poor performers for the year included Neonode (-27.3%, NEON), ParkerVision (-20.0%, PRKR) and VirnetX (-14.4%, VHC), who made less of a dent in overall PIPX performance because of their lack of market value. The S&P 500 stock index for the year was up 9.5%, a significant portion in the 4Q following November’s presidential election.

“For Q4 the PIPX index was up 11.2% after a remarkable 20.4% in Q3,” noted Dr. Kevin Klein, Vice President and GM of Products and Licensing at VORAGO Technologies, who compiled the IP stock performance data for IP CloseUp. “Pendrell underwent a reverse 1:10 split during Q4, as have several other of the smaller companies in the index, another example of the their shrinking share price and market capitalization.”

percentage-change-2016-4q-figure-3-jpeg

The imminent departure of President Obama, an advocate of weaker patents, and the election of Donald Trump, a strong supporter of proprietary content and brand, also may have had something to do with strong 4Q performance for the PIPX.

Despite the over all gains for year and quarter, Marathon (MARA) and ParkerVision were down 38.8% and 56.3% respectively in the 4Q, and were up 7.5% and down 20.0% for the year. Litigation developments were likely influences.

For both the year and 4Q, performance for InterDigital Tessera (TSRA) and Acacia (ACTG) accounted for all the PIPX gain and offset some of the losses from the smaller component companies.

4q2016graph

“InterDigital, Tessera, and Rambus (RMBS) continue to drive the recent growth in the index and make up an ever-increasing share of the index,” stated Dr. Klein. “These three companies accounted for 37% of the total value of the index at the inception in 2011, today they make up over 80% of the total value of the index. InterDigital alone now accounts for over 40%, up from 15% at inception.”

Change in value of PIPX component companies 2011-2016

4q-figure-4-jpeg

 

Five Years of Data

After more than five full years of tracking, the PIPX seems to be suggesting that a handful of strong IP licensing companies are getting stronger and the weaker (smaller) ones are becoming more volatile.

For the full 2016 and 4Q PIPX report, go here.

 Image source: PIPX IP Stock Index

 

Patent licensing index significantly outperformed the S&P 500 in Q1

The eagerly sought bottom for publicly traded patent licensing companies may have been reached according to the data provided by an intellectual property index that tracks stock performance.

The PIPX public IP licensing index was up 13.1% vs. a barely positive 0.8% for the S&P 500 in the first quarter of 2016. This was the best quarter for the PIPX since it began tracking public IP licensing companies back in July 2011.

Rebound or Bounce?

Is this merely a “dead cat” bounce from PIPCOs (public IP licensing companies) having been beaten down over many quarters? Do the results reflect the relative strength of a few large players?

Or is the sector actually rebounding from over-correction which has devalued many good patents? From this observer’s perspective, it is too soon to tell.

The S&P has dramatically outperformed the PIPX since the IP index’s inception, almost five years ago, when patent values were at a record high. Exceptions have been the second and fourth quarters of 2014 (see graph below).

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.36.22 PM

“The change in value of the component companies (below), ranging from +78.6% for Virnetx to -34.4% for Vringo,” said Dr. Kevin Klein, Vice President and General Manager of Products and Licensing at Vorago Technologies, a semiconductor company. “Parkervision (1:10) and Unwired Planet (1:12) had reverse stock splits this quarter. Vringo effected a reverse 1:10 stock split in Q4. Prices and valuations are adjusted to reflect these splits.”

Market Cap Weighted

The PIPX is a capitalization-weighted, price-return measure of the change in value of a segment of publicly traded companies. The performance of more highly valued companies, such as InterDigital (IDCC), Rambus (RMBS) and WiLAN (WILN) in the first quarter had the greatest positive impact on the overall index. The PIPX was brought down less strongly by the poor performance of by Acacia, Neonode, Vringo and Unwired Planet, whose market cap have shrunk.

Many of those who follow PIPCOs do so in conjunction with the IP CloseUp 30®, a real-time index of individual company performance in this sector, which also provides up-to-the minute news and updates. Readers also can quickly find market capitalization information there. The URL can be copied and placed on your home screen or home page.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.35.55 PM

The PIPX index is designed to provide a measure of the market value, and hence a reading of the relative health of the publicly traded intellectual property licensing sector. The index consists of 13 companies with a primary focus of licensing and enforcement of patent intellectual property.

In addition to a focus on intellectual property, the companies must be publicly traded and have a market capitalization greater than $100M. Since being added to the index, the market caps of many of the companies have shrunk below $100M. The index was initiated with a value of 100 on July 1, 2011.

For the full PIPX Intellectual Property Sector Index Q1 2016 update, go here.

Image source: PIPX Index

Burford Capital, Digimarc and Imagination added to IP CloseUp 30

Three public companies that are active in patent licensing or highly dependent on patents for success have been added to the IP CloseUp 30 index of public intellectual property companies, or PIPCOs.

nav_3_7383531__burfordBurford Capital (BUR.L), is primarily a litigation funding organization that trades on the London Stock Exchange. It recently hired Justin Daniels, previously a IP litigation partner at Proskauer Rose, as a Managing Director to further develop and manage its IP offerings. Prior to Proskauer he was a litigator with Skadden, Sullivan & Cromwell and Cravath.

Digimarc Corporation, (DMRC) provides media identification and management solutions to commercial entities and governments. It has a number of key patents and was previously associated with Intellectual Ventures.Digimarc

Imagination Technologies Group (IGMNF) is involved in the development and licensing of silicon and software intellectual property solutions for system-on-chip devices for semiconductor, network operator and electronics original equipment manufacturer, and original design manufacturer companies.

Both Burford and Imagination are UK-based.

Real-Time PIPCO News

The IP CloseUp 30® is a real-time index of publicly traded IP monetization companies. By accessing it here, readers can add the url to their home screen or desk top for easy comparison of companies in the sector, and to get up-to-the-minute news.

imagination-logoTo be considered for inclusion in the index, invention rights (patents) must play a significant role in a company’s value or revenue stream, and its market capitalization must be above $5 million when included. A few companies on the list, including InterDigital, Rambus and Universal Display, are capitalized at over $1 billion. Companies are removed from time-to-time as lack of trading volume, market cap or share price warrant.

Image source: company websites

PIPEX patent company index falls 15.4% for 3Q, double the S&P 500

The PIPEX intellectual property sector stock index fell more than twice as much as the S&P 500 as the effects of the Alice and IPRs, in combination with a correcting stock market, came into play. 

Rambus, while loosing 18.6% in the quarter, still has gained 6.4% Year-to-Date, largely as a result of excellent 1Q and 2Q performance. Tessera and InterDigital stock which performed well in 4Q 2014, has less steep YTD declines (see YTD graph below).

The PIPEX index was down 15.4% vs. the S&P 500 which was lost 6.9%, its biggest quarterly drop since 2011. Unwired Planet was up 17.7 % for the quarter and Acacia 3.5%. For the previous 12 months, Surprisingly, InterDigital and Tessera were the leaders for 12 months, up 27.1% and 21.9% respectively because of a strong 2014 4Q.

3Q 2015 Fig 2 (labeled)

The PIPEX, provided exclusively to IP CloseUp by Dr. Kevin Klein, VP of Licensing for Freescale Semiconductor, is a “capitalization‐weighted price‐return measure of the change in value of this segment
of publicly traded companies.” The Index is designed to provide a measure of the market value and health of the intellectual property licensing business as a whole, while making it easier to identify individual performance. The stock performance of larger companies have a much more significant impact on the Index than those of the less highly valued. (See Fig. 4 weighting graph.)

The thirteen companies in the index are all publicly traded and at one time had a market capitalization of $100M or higher. Private companies such as Intellectual Ventures, Conversant and IPNav are not included, nor are struggling micro-caps like Inventergy.  Fortress, which provides loans to patent holders and is part of a large financial organization, also is excluded.

Year-to-Date

Parkervision and Marathon shares are down the most YTD, 79.1% and 78% respectively. Marathon announced a merger with Uniloc on August 14, which current shareholders may see as a mixed blessing. Eight of the thirteen companies that make up the index saw 12 month declines >40%; four did YTD, indicating a possibly improving trend for shares of some companies.

3Q 2015 YTD (labeled)

Conclusion

It is difficult to say if PIPCOs have hit bottom yet and are ready to rise. Certainly, as they adapt to changes in patent law, recent court decisions and the PTAB, those with larger, well-vetted portfolios, cash and patience are in the best position to prosper. For better or worse IPRs and the PTAB are a fact of patent licensing life which these businesses must learn to contend.

For the full PIPEX 3Q 2015 report go here.

3Q 2015 Fig 4 (labeled)

Image source: The PIPEX Intellectual Property Sector Index 

PIPX patent licensing company index beat the S&P 500 in the 2Q

The PIPX Index of 14 of the larger publicly held patent licensing companies rose by 2.1% for the second quarter 2015, beating the S&P 500 Index.

Similar to some other indexes, the PIPX is heavily weighted by the market value of those companies included, and was able to out-performed the S&P 500 Index, which was down .2% based on the leaders. The biggest movers for the 2Q were RPX, up 17.4% and Rambus up 15.2%.

2Q 2015 Fig 2-page-001

Over the past four quarters or 12 months, Tessera is the biggest winner, up an impressive 72%. InterDigital was ahead 19%, while the 12 other companies in the PIPX were all either flat or down for the period, confirming the recent pressure on PIPCOs. The S&P 500 Index managed to move up 5.2%.

2Q 2015 Fig 3-page-001

Equity investors seem to be telling patent licensing companies that they prefer company size, portfolio breadth and patent quality. Investors also appear to be gravitating to licensing businesses with more predictable cash flows, no easy feat after Alice and inter partes reviews.

For the full PIPX report, including performance dating back to July 1, 2011, just after the Nortel sale to Rockstar, go here.

Image source: Freescale Semiconductor, Dr. Kevin Klein

Leading IP stocks for 1Q include VRNG, RMBS, TSRA, VHC & RPXC

Despite a soft first quarter 2015 for the 13 IP licensing company stocks that comprise the PIPX IP Stock Index, versus the S&P 500, individual winners and losers that bucked the trend.

Vringo (VRNG), down 80.9% over the past 12 months, was up 18.2% in the quarter one, the most in the group. Also advancing were Rambus (RMBS) was up 13.4%, Tessera (TSRA) 12.6%, Virnetx (VHC)10.9% and RPX (RPXC) 4.4%.

Unwired Planet (UPIP), Acacia (ACTG) and Marathon (MARA) were down, 43.0%, 36.8% and 31.0% respectively for the quarter. For MARA it came after a stellar 2014 where it gained some 170%, so some profit-taking is not unexpected. InterDigital (IDC) also cooled off after a torrid 4Q 2014.

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PIPX under-performance relative to the S&P 500 was more muted in the first quarter. This appeared to be less a result of improving performance among PIPX sector companies as a group, than improved performance among a handful of larger Index leaders (Tessera and InderDigital), whose weighting impacted overall results (see final graph).  

Fig2
Vringo’s stock was beaten down significantly in the 2014 as the result of adverse decisions in court, so its gain is less impressive in relative terms. Its improved stock performance is either being considered by some investors as a positive harbinger, or the shares are enjoying a favorable bounce due more to traders than long-term investors.

The role of depressed patent values as a result of the American Invents Act, IPRs and proposed proposed additional anti-patent litigation legislation in poor PIPCO performance is difficult to determine. The likelihood is that investors are beginning to regard some companies as better capitalized and and more sufficiently equipped for the long hall, whatever the scenario.

Those larger players that appear to be in possession of sufficient numbers of good patents and licensing opportunities, appear to be the best position to perform over time.

*****

Fig3The PIPX Index, compiled exclusively for IP CloseUp by Dr. Kevin Klein, Director of IP Licensing at Freescale Semiconductor, is designed to provide a measure of the market value and health of the intellectual property licensing business. The index consists of 13 public companies all whose market capitalization exceeds $100M, whose primary focus of licensing and enforcement of patent intellectual property. The companies included in the index are listed in Table 1. Several of the companies’ market capitalization has fallen below $100M since being added to the index.

“The PIPX index starting from July 2011 through March 31, 2015,” says Dr. Klein. “Somewhat surprisingly, given the amount of interest and attention provided to IP licensing in recent years, the index trends down from July 2011 to about the middle of 2012 and from there has been relatively flat. This performance stands in contrast to that of the broader economy and of publicly traded companies in general.”

The 2015 1Q PIPX update can be found here.

Fig5

Image source: PIPX IP Sector Index, Q1 2015 Update

A Few IP Stocks Shined in 2014; Most Declined, Some Significantly

Size helped in 2014 when it came to public IP licensing company stock performance, but it did not assure success.

As a group, the twelve companies in the PIPX Public IP Performance Index out-paced the S&P 500 for the 4Q 2014 9.1% to 4.4%, with Neonode, Tessera and InterDigital leading the way, all with 4Q gains in excess of 30%.  Marathon, under $100M in market cap for most of 2014 and not represented on the graph below, was up 17% for the quarter and 167% for the year.

2014PIPX4QFor the year 2014, however, companies in the index fare much worse, with PIPX companies generating a collective return of just 4.3% vs. 11.4% for the S&P 500. Tessera and InterDigital were notable performers each with 40% returns for the year. Rambus and Acacia were up about 17% each.

Eight of the twelve companies in the PIPX, which is provided to IP CloseUp by Dr. Kevin Klein of Freescale Semiconductor, were down, led by ParkerVision, VirnetX and Vringo. RPX was down 18.5% for the year and WiLAN 11.3%.

The PIPX is weighted by value or market capitalization, so poor performance by smaller companies has less of an overall impact on index performance.2014PIPXyr

Conclusions? 

It is difficult to draw too many conclusions from this, the first year of the PIPX. Investors tended to reward higher value stocks, but size was not a guarantee of performance, with RPX and others down against both the index and S&P 500.

It’s important to recognize that despite uncharacteristic pressure on patent values due to legislative reform and judicial decisions, good assets have continued to hold value. With the recent Rockstar settlements and sale of 4,000 patents to RPX, we could be at or near the pricing bottom, depending on the nature of 2015 patent reform.

A few small stocks bucked the trend, notably Marathon (MARA), which was not on the PIPX list because it was under $100M in market cap for most of the year. It is now at $110M and is being added. MARA ended the year up 167%. I’m pleased to say that Brody Berman Associates, my firm, helped to develop with the company’s early messaging.

Other companies not in the index performed poorly and their results can be readily tracked on he IP CloseUp 30 found here. (Paste the URL onto you home screen or desktop for easy, real-time monitoring of the public IP sector.)

Image source: Freescale Semiconductor

Nine Companies in IP CloseUp 30 Index Fall Below $1/share

More than one-third of the IP CloseUp® 30 public patent licensing companies (or PIPCOs) are currently selling for less than or about $1 per share — Opportunity of red flag?

With the S&P 500 and other major market indices up slightly for the year, about as expected, PIPCOs continue to defy expectations both on the down and the up side.

As of mid-day December 17, nine IP CloseUp 30 companies are trading below $1 per share and two others are just barely above gold-bear-market-cnbcit. The laggards include Copytele, DSS, Hipcricket, Inventergy, MGT Capital, Opti, Inc., Paid, Inc., Single Touch, Unwired Planet and Vringo. Pendrell is at $1.27 and Spherix at 1.13, 2014 lows. VirnetX is down 75% for the year and Finjan 64%.

It remains to be seen whether 2015 investors will regard these stocks, beaten down by new patent laws and lackluster performance, as buy or sell opportunities.

Patent licensing stocks continuing to outperform the market by a wide margin are Tessera, Rambus, InterDigital, Marathon Patent Group and Acacia Technologies. Collectively these stocks are up well over 50% in 2014. Marathon is up 188%.

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ipcu30-blurb2-21Year end stock selling can be fueled by many things, including mutual funds that announce their mandatory distributions, typically in mid December. This year fund distributions have been particularly high because many have taken gains from previous years, including a huge 2013. Some investors sell to avoid the taxes passed on by funds. The plunge in oil prices is adding volatility as is the Fed’s suggested easing of economic support.

PIPCOs that have transcended the general public NPE stock trend appear to be well-positioned for 2015 and may benefit from proposed new patent legislation should it pass.

Image sources: ipcloseup.com; promotaka.com

InterDigital and Tessera Soar in (for now) a Strong 4Q for Stocks

The stock market continues to defy expectations. Even more surprising, a few PIPCOs have dramatically outperformed it. Smaller cap patent stocks have not fared so well.  

A handful of patent licensing companies are poised to end 2014 on a resoundingly high note. Early indications are that InterDigital and Tessera Technologies are among those that have likely benefited from the positive momentum generated in the fourth quarter, fueled by a 67-month bull run.

With the S&P 500 up 11.44% at the close of trading on December 9, Tessera (NASDAQ: TSRA) is up 82.39% YTD, and most of that in the fourth quarter. It was up “only” 34.9% through the third quarter. (See TSRA’s performance through the third quarter in the Freescale chart below.)

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Unwired Planet (NASDAQ: UPIP) on the other hand is up 8% YTD after having been up 35.5% at the end of the third quarter, dropped dramatically in the fourth quarter. InterDigital (NASDAQ: IDCC),  up a respectable 35% at the end of the third quarter, is currently at 81% YTD. Another beneficiary of good tidings and market momentum. IDCC, TSRA and, to a lesser extent, Rambus (NASDAQ: RMBS), have been quietly generating credibility for patent licensing stocks. (In a future IP CloseUp we will be analyzing their largest investors.)

Many Nanocaps Suffer

Many of the nanocaps, PIPCOs whose market capitalization does not exceed 100M, continue to be down for the year and quarter. Some like ParkerVision, Vringo and VirnteX have been dragged down by adverse decisions in court. Others, like DSS and Inventergy have had difficulty showing they can turn patent licensing into a sustainable public business. Notably, IDCC, which ballooned to $75.72 on August 7, 2011, a five-year high, has steadily climbed back up to $53.39 after sinking as low as 25 on July 22, 2012. Some patent licensing stocks appear to be more resilient than others. Often that grit is based on (1) cash flow and (2) cash on the balance sheet. (Cash was king long before Lebron.) Stay tuned to see how the year will end for PIPCOs and which companies have been able to take advantage of the still running bull. Tessera

Image source: Freescale Semiconductor; Yahoo! Finance 

Some Licensing Companies will Likely Benefit from Higher Patent Hurdles

As businesses adjust to new judicial and legislative requirements public patent licensing companies will have to work harder and think smarter to compete against the stock market and each other.

Some are better-positioned to succeed than other.

Investors will soon learn which patent licensing companies are best-prepared to respond to the new patent quality and anti-monetization requirements handed down by the lawmakers and the courts.

Public IP companies (PIPCOs) not only need to surmount new legal obstacles to monetize their assets, but at some point in the near future will no longer have the benefit of a bull market to buoy their shares. Such obstacles will actually suit some companies as they rise to the new challenges, and competition increase. It’s hard to keep a good patent down, especially a heavily infringed one; nor is it easy to deter a determined patent holder.

PIPCOs have benefited from the momentum of a 65-month bull market, by most accounts, now in its final stages. Balance sheet basics like cash flow, market value and the ability to grow in adverse market conditions will be increasingly important as investors seek shelter. This provides opportunities for companies like Tessera, InterDigital and Rambus, all market valued at $1B or more. This will put pressure on thinly traded nano-caps, whose low value will present challenges in weak market for speculative stocks. Exceptions will be those tiny companies whose stock price outpaces their revenue stream.  

Market Cap

In “Higher patent quality hurdles may help some Licensing companies to prevail” in the January IAM Magazine I look at the PIPCOs that have out-performed the S&P 500, thus far, and those positioned to continue to. I also consider  RPX’s (NASDAQ: RPXCIP business model which has suffered, possibly from a perceived lack of need for defensive aggregation under new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews.

“A kind of normalisation appears to be taking place in the NPE space,” the Intangible Investor piece states. “While IP rights and Alice have made it more difficult for most companies (and law firms) to collect big damages awards, they have not affected all PIPCOs the same way. Those with quality and capital, and room to grow are in a good position to prevail. Stock prices are depressed as over-reacting investors adjust to lower patent values, but some smart investors will see this as a buying opportunity.”  

Stock Performance

The businesses in the IP CloseUp® 30 that exceed $1 billion in market cap all did well through the first three quarters, some even outperforming the S&P 500, which was up 5% at that point. Most of the rest performed poorly, with the notable exception of Marathon Patent Group (NASDAQ: MARA), whose share price was up 120% at the end of the 3Q. (It’s up 147.7%% over the past year as I write this.)  Of the seven most highly valued IP licensing plays RPX performed the worst. (See current 12-month performance comparison below.)

S&P Comparison

“IP licensing companies are a very small part of a larger public equities market,” says Mark Argento, senior equity capital markets at Lake Street Capital, who has been following PIPCOs for almost a decade. “Only a half, or so, are institutional grade stocks because of their size and volume. Investor sentiment is improving. We need to remember there is a difference between long-term investors and short-term traders.” (See 3Q market cap and 12-month return charts on this page.)

The January IAM will be published in late November.

Image source: Lake Street Capital Partners; Freescale Semiconductor; tnoonz.com; yahoofinance.com.

PIPX 3

ParkerVision v. Qualcomm: A Field Day for the Shorts?

ParkerVision v. Qualcomm is a unique patent dispute…

pitting two public IP licensing companies (PIPCOs) with decidedly different business models against each other. The case underscores an a weakness in the public IP licensing model. It can be addressed by providing better information about how the patent system works and managing shareholder expectations.

Qualcomm (QCOM), a certified tech giant that licenses chips used in practically every smart phone sold, and derives billions in profit from patent licensing. ParkerVision (PRKR) is a relative David vs.  giants,  with excellent rights but  more than $20 million in annual losses. It hast has never turned a profit.

Nose Dive

ParkerVision shares were down as much as 60% yesterday on almost 30 times its average daily volume because a Florida Central District Court in Orlando ruled that Qualcomm did not infringe willfully and that the damages award was “only” $173 million, about half of what was expected.

PRKR was up 75% on October 17, trading as high at $7.38 when the validity of its patents were upheld by the court last week.  PRKR had sought damages of $432 million and a wilfulness verdict, which  would have possibly tripled the award.

The market speculation regarding the damages that  PRKR could have won led to extreme volatility. Trading in PRKR shares was halted Wednesday afternoon pending the outcome of the court’s damages ruling. Ironically, a few other public licensing companies halted trading, too, in anticipation of the decision.

Costly Confusion

The audience that benefits most from confusion are the short sellers, who sometimes bid stocks up then bet they will dive, without concern for the RenderImagefundamentals, or, for that matter, the facts.  As long as the shorts are a step ahead of other investors’ timing they usually wind up winning.  Investment bankers also may benefit from higher market capitalization because it increases the prospect of underwriting secondary or debt offerings.

One significant patent holder told me that a  JP Morgan had pegged the potential damages award with a willfulness finding as high as $2 billion. Flame fanning of this nature merely preys on those already confused about patents and the patent system, and is a blow to PIPCO credibility and long-term acceptance and reliability.

While the damages award is the largest patent jury verdict so far in 2013, and ninth-largest of all U.S. jury awards according to data compiled by Bloomberg, it’s less than half the $432 million ParkerVision was seeking.

That the market saw this otherwise resounding and well-deserved win in court as a something  less than a significant success suggests a failure many to manage expectations.  It can only serve to undermine confidence in IP-centric stocks.

ParkerVision, founded in 1989 designs, develops, and markets proprietary radio frequency (RF) technologies and products for use in semiconductor circuits for wireless communication products in the United States.

The court ruled that Qualcomm infringed on four patents of ParkerVision’s related to radio-frequency receivers and the conversion of electromagnetic signals in wireless devices and improperly used them in Qualcomm’s semiconductor chips.

Back in February, after a positive Markman ruling against Qualcomm, ParkerVision’s stock price rose 73%, from $2.43 to $4.21. PRKR’s market cap was around $300 million for most of 2013 and was recently as high as about $700 million. IP investors will recall a spike in InterDigital’s (IDCC) shares after Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion, temporarily increasing its value by over $1 billion.

Both PRKR and QCOM (and IDCC) are in the IP CloseUp® 30.

Illustration source: parkervision.com

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