Patent transactions watch: video assets are all the rage 

Patent Transactions Watch
July 4, 2024

Dolby’s acquisition of GE Licensing was the big story, but May and June saw other deal activity in the video space, too 

By Jake Schindler 

Transactions watch is a new feature that will be published bimonthly by Sisvel Insights. Our aim is to help patent owners, technology users and their advisers stay abreast of patent transfers with the potential to affect the licensing landscape. It is entirely based on public records and news reports.  

The main focus will be on fields of technology subject to significant standardisation – including mobile communications, wireless networking and multimedia – but we will also highlight deals in other technology areas that catch our attention.  

Discussion of the technology covered by various patents is based solely on keywords in the patent titles – readers can review the patents in full via the linked transaction documents. 

If there’s a theme for patent transactions over the last two months, it’s the very active market for video-related rights. 

Dolby Laboratories’ June announcement that it will acquire the GE Licensing business represents one of the biggest patent market deals of 2024. The price tag – an all-cash $429 million – indicates that Dolby sees significant value in the portfolio changing hands, which is described as comprising “over 5,000 patents, including foundational patents in standard essential video compression”. 

Dolby’s press release specifically highlighted the HEVC and VVC codecs, and in an interview with IAM, vice president of licensing and general counsel Andy Sherman also mentioned coverage spanning VP9, AV1 and Qi Wireless, as well of a range of industrial tech areas – electric vehicles, chemicals, semiconductors and batteries. (He also gave a nod to patent pool operators including Access Advance, Sisvel and Via as central to the company’s licensing strategy). 

Other multimedia deals 

Another company that’s active in the market for video-related rights is Oppo. In a USPTO assignment recorded in May, it received six assets from LG Electronics. Of these, two mention video in the titles (video decoding, video compression) and the remaining four address image coding or processing. 

Adeia, an R&D and licensing company active across both media and semiconductors, also turned up in multiple recent transactions. Adeia Media Holdings LLC received 30 US patent assets from Brightcove Inc., a US software company that provides online video streaming solutions in a deal recorded in June. Media playback, media streaming and cloud-based video delivery are among the topics addressed in the patent titles. That transaction happened back in March, predating a previously-disclosed acquisition by Adeia’s media arm that saw it secure 21 patents from SGPH, LLC in April. 

Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, which is part of the Japanese company’s video gaming division, picked up 12 US patent assets in connection with its November 2023 acquisition of iSIZE, a UK business described as “applying machine learning to video processing”. Most of the patent titles refer to image data processing. 

Communications/wireless deals 

One of the largest assignments recorded in the May/June period was a transaction between Huawei and Japan’s IP Bridge which was executed all the way back in September 2023. It includes 130 total patent assets broadly related to communications technology and follows a series of smaller assignments from Huawei to IP Bridge that occurred in October 2022. 

More recently, Samsung Electronics assigned 49 US patent rights to Nokia in a deal executed in February. Back in January 2023, the pair agreed to a 5G patent licence agreement under which Samsung is paying royalties to Nokia for a multi-year period. Nokia also appeared in a newly-recorded transaction transferring 20 patents to Murata Manufacturing, a maker of electronics components. 

In the Wireless LAN space, Philips was disclosed as the recipient of 18 patent assets from an entity called Communication Systems LLC, all of which bear the title “Apparatuses, methods, and computer-readable medium for communication in a wireless local area network”.  

Finally, a June recordal revealed 29 patents obtained in January by Lab Technology LLC, a New Mexico-based company that has since launched several litigation campaigns. The portfolio previously belonged to TP Lab, Inc. and is being asserted against products including smart speakers, mobile apps and telecoms equipment. 

Other transactions of note 

In the closely-watched AI space, a patent assignment recorded in late May confirmed messaging app operator Snap Inc.’s somewhat stealthy acquisition of GrAI Matter Labs, an edge AI chip startup based in France. The eight patents in the transaction relate to neural network processing, neuromorphic processing and other technologies.

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