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InterDigital inks licensing deals, raises share buybacks

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Interdigital headquarters Bellevue Corporate Center

The mobile and video technology company InterDigital, headquartered in the Bellevue Park Corporate Center near Wilmington, has signed two major patent license deals to start the year. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – InterDigital, the mobile and video technology research and development company, signed two technology licensing deals and agreed to arbitration on a third to start the new year.

The 50-year-old public company headquartered in the Wilmington suburbs has developed the video coding and cellular network that underpins much of the world’s modern technology, from TVs to smartphones to computers.

On Jan. 1, it announced new licensing deals with electronics giants LG and Panasonic.

For the South Korean LG, the deal included HEVC (high-efficiency video coding) and VVC (versatile video coding) patent license agreements that apply to a range of LG products such as TVs and PCs. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“I am very pleased that LG Electronics, one of the leading manufacturers of consumer electronics products, has taken a license to InterDigital´s video coding portfolio and I look forward to a continued, mutually beneficial business relationship with the company,” said Eeva Hakoranta, chief licensing officer for InterDigital, in a statement.

For the Japanese Panasonic, the deal included HEVC and digital TV patents, the latter of which Interdigital developed in partnership with Sony. The terms of that deal, which applies to Panasonic TVs, likewise were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, InterDigital announced that it had agreed to enter binding arbitration on a contract renewal for its patent licenses with Korean electronics giant Samsung. Its prior licensing agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2022, and a panel of arbitrators will decide the royalties to be paid for a new term. It is reportedly rare for electronics makers and holders of so-called “standard essential patents” to reach a point of arbitration.

“While we always prefer to conclude our license agreements through amicable good faith negotiation, independent binding arbitration provides an effective mechanism for resolving licensing disputes,” said Liren Chen, CEO and president of InterDigital, in a statement. “I welcome Samsung’s willingness to enter into a new license with us and their commitment to work through the remaining issues in arbitration.”

As InterDigital secured future licensing commitments, its board also turned to reward shareholders, increasing its stock buyback capacity by $333 million to a total of $400 million.

Its share value rose about 14% to open at $56.71 per share Wednesday after news of the licenses and buybacks were announced. Wiping a significant number of shares off the books could help value that is down nearly 22% year-over-year, although that decline is less than the technology sector average of about 33% due in part to the strength of InterDigital’s patent licensing program.

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