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HP Moves To Flog Key Smartphone Patents In Effort To Raise Cash

By David Richards | Friday | 25/10/2013

Struggling PC Company Hewlett-Packard who recently reported record losses in Australia has moved to sell some of their mobile-computing patents.

The Company who failed with their Web OS software and their Palm smartphone and were recently fined $3M dollars for misleading consumers over their PC Warranty rights is looking to bolster their financial position with a quick sale of key patents.

Sources claim that the technology Company who for years bragged about their ability to invent but failed to invent products that consumers wanted to buy has approached several potential buyers including Apple, Google and Samsung about the portfolio of patents.

The patents includes those related to WebOS, the smartphone and tablet-computer operating system that Hewlett-Packard bought through its 2010 acquisition of Palm a Company that HP later wrote down because of their inability to market products developed by Palm.

Often described as a giant engineering company who don't understand marketing HP has failed to keep up with the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung. 

THP's Web OS operating system's code was sold to LG Electronics earlier this year, the software is set to be used in products that will be shown for the first time at CES 2014.

Bloomberg claims that in recent months, Hewlett-Packard has removed some restrictive conditions that made the patents unattractive to buyers. That made the patents more appealing to prospective buyers, and more likely to fetch a higher price, these people said.

Described as a "basket case" PC Company, Hewlett Packard is today trying to recover from several years of management turmoil, declining sales and profit and a balance sheet damaged by bad acquisitions. 

Meg Whitman who earlier this year made a secret visit to Australia to meet with a high level disgruntled HP client, is desperately trying to stabilise revenue at the Company whose PC operations is now centred on products running Microsoft Windows operating system and Google's Android OS.

"We don't comment on rumour and speculation," said Michael Thacker, a spokesman for Hewlett-Packard.

The move to raise capital by selling assets could pay off for the PC Company. 

In 2011 Google agreed to pay $12.5 billion to buy Motorola Mobility, in large part for its patents. Apple and Microsoft the same year led a consortium that paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 Nortel Networks patents. AOL.sold and licensed hundreds of patents to Microsoft for $1.06 billion last year.

After failing to turn Palm into a success, Hewlett-Packard has also struggled in the tablet market, at one stage they teamed up with Harvey Norman to sell an ill-fated tablet called the TouchPad, it bombed with Harvey Norman cutting their losses by job lotting unsold inventory at 20% of the original purchase price.

Desperate to do something with their WebOS, which was originally designed for smartphones and tablets HP has now turned the OS into an open-source software project and rebranded it as a wholly-owned subsidiary called Gram? 

Hewlett-Packard retained WebOS's patents under that deal and licensed them to LG. The agreement would be unlikely to encumber Hewlett-Packard's ability to sell its WebOS patents, one of the people with knowledge of the sales process said.

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