Lenovo buys mobile-related patents for $100 million

Unwired Planet is also licensing its remaining patent portfolio to the Chinese PC maker

China's Lenovo is buying up patents related to 3G and 4G technologies from U.S.-based Unwired Planet for US$100 million, as the company sets about expanding with its proposed Motorola Mobility acquisition.

The 21 patent families Lenovo is purchasing from Unwired Planet will help the Chinese company grow its smartphone and mobile business in new markets, it said Thursday.

In addition, Unwired Planet is licensing its patent portfolio to Lenovo for an unspecified number of years. The Nevada-based company develops mobile technologies in use by carriers including AT&T and Sprint. After its deal with Lenovo closes, Unwired Planet said it will have about 2,500 issued and pending international patents in its portfolio.

Although Lenovo is best known as a PC maker, the company is aiming to becoming a major vendor of mobile phones. Already, in its home market of China, Lenovo ranks as one of the biggest smartphone vendors, and has dozens of different models on the local market.

Lenovo's mobile phone business is set to grow even larger. In January, the Chinese company announced it planned to buy Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9 billion.

With the proposed acquisition, Lenovo's handset business will get a foothold in the North American market. The company plans to keep the Motorola business intact, and even use the business to sell phones in its home market of China.

The Motorola deal will also help the Chinese company shield itself from patent-related lawsuits that have been used to try to stymie the businesses of other handset makers. By buying Motorola, Lenovo will take ownership of over 2,000 patent assets and also gain access to Google's own patent portfolio.

Lenovo's deal with Unwired Planet is expected to close in 30 days.

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