Goldpeak Innovations, a South Korean NPE created to monetise former Pantech patents, is back on the transactions radar with an apparent sale to Samsung Electronics. The deal comes two years after it made a disposal to Apple, then at the height of its shopping spree.
The transaction with Samsung took place in July, though it was recorded with the USPTO only this month. It’s a slightly larger portfolio than the one Goldpeak previously sold to Apple, consisting of 16 US patent rights which previously belonged to now-defunct Korean smartphone vendor Pantech. The assignment document groups the rights into three technology areas: LTE, display and form factor.
Goldpeak was assigned over 200 Pantech patents in October 2016. To date its only known transaction was the sale of 12 US patent rights to Apple the following year. This was during the Cupertino company’s most active patent-buying spell of late, as it bolstered its communications portfolio in preparation for a bruising litigation battle with Qualcomm.
The Seoul-based NPE does not appear to have taken over the entire Pantech portfolio, and other deals involving Pantech assets have since followed. After the remains of Pantech were sold for a mere $9,000 in 2017 to a buyout firm called KNA Group, the company made patent disposals to Apple, Oppo and most recently Red Hat.
According to the assignment documents, Saekyung Park is the CEO of Goldpeak. When the NPE’s previous deal with Apple was done, that post was held by YoungJoon Rhee, a former executive with patent fund Intellectual Discovery. Other reports in local media have suggested that the firm was set up by veterans of another ID-linked monetisation firm called SPH.
Given the litigation and licensing backgrounds of several of those linked to Goldpeak over the years, it is interesting that none of the Pantech patents appear to have wound up in US litigation, and the only deals we have heard about are patent assignments.
The Pantech portfolio is reported to have a reputation as a small but high-quality trove of rights. The fact that Apple and Samsung have chosen to take certain rights off the market underlines that value. The most obvious way to monetise them in the buyer’s market of recent years would be to license them, and Apple and Samsung are certainly the first two companies you would target. That raises the question of whether these transactions result from a strategy of selling off the portfolio in small pieces, or whether they’re actually linked to successful licensing deals.
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