Icahn Prods Motorola to Explore Patent Sale

Carl Icahn lit a fire under shares of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and opened up a potential battle with the company’s board, as the activist investor said he has urged the firm to explore options for its patent portfolio, in the wake of the $4.5 billion deal for Nortel Networks Corp.’s patents.

Mr. Icahn disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday he had talks with Motorola Mobility this week. In the filing, he said Motorola’s patent portfolio is “substantially larger” than Nortel’s and includes patents for so-called 4G telecommunication technologies that have “significant” value.

“I am concerned that the tail is wagging the dog,” Mr. Icahn said in an interview. “They should maximize the monetization without being overly concerned on the effects of the operating company.” Mr. Icahn added that he believes the company’s patents are worth more than $4 billion.

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