After a year in which it sold off a significant number of assets, Intellectual Discovery (ID) got back in the acquisition game in late December, assignment records show. It looks like the first portfolio the Korean patent fund has bought from a foreign company since the departure of former CEO Kwang Jun Kim in October 2016.

ID acquired 16 US patents in all in two separate transactions on 26th December 2017. The two assignors, Gigabit Solutions LLC and Ladon Solutions LLC, both list addresses in Virginia, and were both represented by an individual named Samsoo Kim, according to USPTO records. All of the patents involved were originally assigned to Delphi, the automotive parts giant which now trades as Aptiv. The assets acquired through Gigabit appear directed to collision detection systems and adaptive lighting; those acquired through Ladon have titles suggesting applications in vehicle information systems, acceleration and vehicle/object detection.

The December purchase is not ID’s first foray into auto and auto-adjacent technologies. Hyundai Motor was one of the original investors in the patent fund, acquiring a stake that in 2012 was reported to be around 12.5%. In 2013 and 2014, ID transferred three portfolios to Hyundai which it had acquired from third parties. It would be a smart bet that these portfolios from Delphi may have attracted the interest of the Korean auto giant.

The deal indicates that ID is not done adding to its portfolio under new president and CEO Jung Dong-soo, who took the reins at the start of 2017. The firm also acquired six patents from Korean research organisation ETRI earlier in December. Before that, ID had made a series of significant disposals, with assets ending up in the hands of DSS, Oppo and IP Valuation Partners. That last deal, closed in October, has now produced a litigation campaign, with an entity called Compact Lens Technologies LLC asserting one of the former ID patents against Microsoft, Huawei and Apple.

ID also made a couple of assignments to what look like small to medium sized Korean companies near the end of last year. Nine US patents related to humidifier technology were assigned to an Incheon-based company called Miro; while Daegu-based RF Co picked up two US assets for window cleaning robots. All of the patents in these deals were originally assigned to ID, suggesting that they are part of ID’s IP creation business.

Together with the recent announcement that ID will lead a new licensing effort in China on behalf of LG Chem, the flurry of activity at ID suggests that it has the resources to continue operating across its multiple business lines. For those that believe the Korean IP environment can benefit from having an independent IP value creation firm, that is good news.