Sisvel has announced two deals with Samsung that confirm the IP mangement and licensing platform’s continued progress into the top division of the patent monetisation space. Not only has the Korean giant agreed to take a royalty-bearing licence to a portfolio of Wi-Fi patents held by Sisvel subsidiary Hera Wireless, but in an unrelated transaction it has also transferred patents to Enact IP, a special purpose vehicle set up by Sisvel which will license them out as part of its broader Wi-Fi programme.
The deals come on the back of other recent positive developments for Sisvel, including US litigation settlements with LG Electronics and Buffalo, which saw both companies agree royalty-bearing licences to the same Wi-Fi patents that Samsung now has access to; and Columbia University joining the Wi-Fi licensing programme, the first Ivy League university to do so. The programme now has over 100 licensees.
Sisvel began life in 1982 as a joint venture between Italian TV set manufacturers and now operates out of offices in the US, Europe and Asia, through which it offers a variety of pooled rights covering technologies, including wireless, digital display and audio/video coding. Its portfolio runs to thousands of patents – both managed on behalf of others, such as Fraunhofer, KPN and Orange, and acquired – with well over 1,000 licences in place.
Although it has been on the scene for a long time – and in the past has been described as the original European patent troll – the Samsung agreements are likely to change a lot of views about the firm.
As anyone who watches the IP market knows, Samsung is not a company that happily accedes to any old licensing request it gets; it fights its corner very hard. To persuade the Korean giant to sign up to a deal without a direct assertion is a huge feather in the cap of the Sisvel team, which is led by CEO Mattia Fogliacco, as well as a very strong validation of the patents in question. To then follow that up by getting a company that has traditionally shied away from monetisation to transfer patents into an SPV which will then license them out is another big coup. I would also add that having Samsung’s agreement to make these two developments public is a significant achievement, too. This is a business that likes to keep its dealmaking under the radar as much as possible.
What all these things mean is that Sisvel’s Wi-Fi licensing programme has a very powerful message attached to it, with big companies that are known to stand their ground becoming licensees. Samsung is a name that people take notice of. It is likely to open a lot of doors that were previously shut, while at the same time persuading recalcitrant negotiators that they may be best-advised to sign on the dotted line. My guess is that we will be hearing about other Sisvel deals over the coming months.