CHIP DESIGNER Qualcomm plans to restructure itself into two divisions with one handling patent licensing duties while the other handles chip development.
Qualcomm has been slowly building up a considerable library of patents and makes a packet from its 3G patents, however the firm is changing the boardroom chairs around in order to create a significant division that solely deals with patent licensing issues. The firm said the Qualcomm Technology Licensing division will take care of its patent portfolio while Qualcomm Technologies Inc (QTI) will work on research and development, products, services and its semiconductor business.
Qualcomm said the split isn't due to any legal threats and is simply a formalisation of how the company has been operating for some time. However the firm added that QTI will increase the amount of work it does with the open source community and that the restructuring will "help ensure that QTI and its subsidiaries' activities do not result in the licensing of any of Qualcomm Inc's patents, including its 3G and 4G patents".
According to Qualcomm, the QTI division will own patents that are developed for open source software contributions. Qualcomm's statement raises questions of how it will allow contributions to the open source community to be pushed upstream in projects such as the Linux kernel.
Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm said, "Our internal reorganization will provide even greater protection for our industry-leading intellectual property portfolio as our products and services businesses seek to accelerate innovation and deliver our products to market quickly."
Qualcomm's restructuring comes as the smartphone market is mired in a glut of patent lawsuits. While Qualcomm has a considerable number of fundamental patents that should insulate the company from lawsuits, its restructuring is a sign of how companies are trying to put up firewalls just in case a costly patent lawsuit heads their way. µ