Ina Fried

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Mobile Patent Land Grab Continues: HTC Scoops Up Taiwan’s S3 Unit From Via

Taiwanese phone maker HTC is paying $300 million to acquire graphics chip maker S3 Graphics from Via Technologies, in the process gaining access to that company’s patent portfolio.

The patents could aid HTC, which is in the middle of a legal battle with Apple. It’s the latest in a string of moves in the mobile industry as key players look to bolster their intellectual property position in what has become a very litigious market.

The biggest prize in recent memory — the patent holdings of bankrupt Nortel Networks — was sold last week to a consortium of companies including Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion and others. Their $4.5 billion winning bid kept the collection of 6,000 patents out of the hands of Google.

The S3 deal is expected to close before the end of the year, Via said.

“The transaction would allow Via to monetize a portion of its rich IP portfolio, yet retain its graphics capabilities to support the development and sale of its processors and chipsets,” Senior VP Tzu-Mu Lin said in a statement.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the patent litigation world, Microsoft continues to convince some of the folks selling Android devices to pay for a license to Microsoft’s mobile patents. In the past week, Redmond has separately announced four deals with smaller Android product makers. A pact with Wistron was announced on Tuesday, while last week the company announced agreements with Onkyo, Velocity Micro and General Dynamics Itronix.

HTC, which makes both Android and Windows Phone-based devices, was the first big name company to announce an Android-related licensing deal with Microsoft, in a pact announced last year.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work