Nvidia, Intellectual Ventures Buy 500 LTE-Related Patents From IPWireless

Nvidia, which has promised to bring Tegra LTE chips to the United States later this year, has purchased, with Intellectual Ventures, 500 patents related to LTE and LTE-Advanced.

Nvidia and Intellectual Ventures (IV) are flexing some new muscle, announcing May 14 that they've together acquired approximately 500 patents that were developed and owned by IPWireless.

The patents relate to wireless communications and include concepts related to Long-Term Evolution (LTE), LTE-Advanced and 3G/4G technologies, the pair said in a joint statement.

While financial details of the deal weren't disclosed, ownership of the patents was split between the two, said the statement. Nvidia will license the rights to the patents it didn't acquire, and IPWireless still has the right€”royalty-free€”to access the lot of them.

"This acquisition complements our ownership of extensive fundamental patents in graphics, visual and mobile computing," David Shannon, executive vice president and general counsel at Nvidia, said in the statement. "These patents ... will help support our rapidly expanding efforts in the mobile business."

A major 2012 trend is quad-core processors in smartphones, and at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, in February, the California-based Nvidia showed itself to be a trendsetter, contributing its 1.5GHz Tegra 3 chip to the LG Optimus 4X HD and HTC One X smartphones.

The patents will likely come in handy as the company works on its next venture, the LTE Tegra chip.

During Nvidia's May 11 first-quarter earnings call, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said that the company plans to bring "LTE and Tegra devices" to the United States during the second half of the year.

Huang expanded:

"Although we don't have LTE at the moment, LTE is predominantly a U.S.-centric phenomenon. Outside of the United States, the big superphone upgrade is quad-core. And Tegra 3 is the world's first quad-core and it's even a special quad-core at that with 4-PLUS-1, and it's got NVidia's branded graphics and all of our style of doing wonderful graphics and the video games and the content really shows. And so Tegra 3 is the next major upgrade for superphones in Europe and in China and elsewhere. And then towards the end of the year, we hope to bring Tegra 3 with LTE phones to United States."

Later in the call, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha, Huang explained that since Nividia didn't start from a modem business and so has focused on graphics and computing, the decision was made to first focus on segments where LTE isn't necessary or not ready€”Europe and Asia and other non-U.S. markets. Then, "starting third quarter-ish," Nvidia and its partners will begin working to bring Tegra and LTE devices into the United States.

Nvidia's new patents should also help it in its competition against Qualcomm, which has one of the largest patent portfolios in the mobile industry. The pair's rivalry is evident in the new HTC One smartphone: While the AT&T One X runs Nvidia's Tegra 3, the T-Mobile-offered One S runs Qualcomm's Snapdragon SR chip.