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Qualcomm buys Palm, iPaq patents from HP

Qualcomm has acquired a large patent portfolio related to Palm, iPaq, and the Bitfone device management platform from Hewlett-Packard for an undisclosed sum.

The portfolio is made up of about 1,400 patents and pending patent applications in the U.S. and about 1,000 patents and applications in other countries, Qualcomm said. The innovations include “fundamental mobile operating system techniques,” the company said.

With intellectual property linked to two iconic brands, Qualcomm has acquired a piece of mobile history. Palm evolved its 1990s personal digital assistants into early data-enabled phones, and Compaq introduced the popular Microsoft-based iPaq handheld around the turn of the century. Both companies were later acquired by HP, which eventually shut down the two mobile device lines. Its 2011 decision to discontinue Palm’s webOS phones and tablets was widely criticized as a fumble by short-time CEO Leo Apotheker.

HP acquired Bitfone, a vendor of mobile device management software, in 2006 as part of its effort to build up the iPaq platform.

The patent portfolio will let Qualcomm “offer even more value to current and future licensees,” the company said. In addition to being a dominant vendor of mobile chips, Qualcomm developed many of the technologies used in mobile devices and networks and makes much of its revenue from licensing that intellectual property.

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