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Push for big patent holdings brews in tech sector Google deal for Motorola includes 17,500 patents a

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) –– The intellectual-property arms race is rapidly turning into a game of big numbers, pushing companies such as Google into patent-buying sprees, tech-industry observers say.

Google Inc.’s GOOG -0.05% agreement to purchase Motorola Mobility Inc. MMI -0.05% for $12.5 billion Monday will give it a slate of 17,500 patents and 7,500 patent applications. That’s the latest in a slew of attempts to bulk up on its patent war chest.

Google recently purchased 1,000 IBM IBM -1.01% patents, and made a failed bid for Nortel Networks Corp.’s NRTLQ +6.67% 4,500-strong portfolio that was eventually sold to a consortium that included Apple Inc. AAPL -0.15% , Microsoft Corp. MSFT 0.00% and Research In Motion RIMM -0.66% .

Before Monday, Google was also believed to be considering buying InterDigital Inc. IDCC +0.03% , a wireless technology company that holds 8,800 patents.

While Google’s willingness to fork out a 63% premium over Motorola Mobility Inc.’s most recent closing price raises eyebrows, the Internet company is reacting to -- and feeding -- a new reality in the tech marketplace, patent brokers and attorneys say.

“The Motorola deal is reflective of the value associated with a large collection of IT patents, which are becoming valued at premiums,” said James Malackowski, chief executive of Ocean Tomo, the intellectual property services firm, that helped to value a portion of the Nortel portfolio. “It’s a case of 1 + 1 = 5.” More...

08-16-2011 22:20