Friday, January 4, 2013

Acacia Research ( Nasdaq - ACTG ) -- Gains Momentum

Acacia Research (ACTG $26.50) could report better than expected Q4 results.  The company completed a 2-way patent deal with Nokia-Siemens near the end of the quarter.  Details were not revealed.  But chances are good Acacia landed a sizable settlement for some if not all of its extensive smart phone portfolio.  Other technologies may have been included.  Nokia-Siemens separately agreed to provide some of its patents to Acacia, so it could enforce them against other companies.  Normally, when Acacia partners with an intellectual property holder, the two sides divide any winnings 50%-50% less whatever they pay in expenses and legal fees.  That ratio can fluctuate, usually in Acacia's favor, if Acacia pays an upfront fee to its partner.  It remains unclear how valuable the Nokia-Siemens patents are.  But they could provide a meaningful boost in future periods.

Acacia also won a favorable judgement against Apple Computer.  That settlement is believed to be relatively small.  Acacia has six additional infringement cases underway against Apple, including a potentially game changing case that's scheduled for court in April.  Acacia hopes to enforce several basic smart phone patents in that action. 

The pace of settlements overall has begun to accelerate.  Acacia has expanded its portfolio dramatically over the past year.  It usually takes 12-18 months for the company to prepare and implement a comprehensive legal strategy.  Those actions now are beginning to roll.  Many targets are becoming more inclined to settle with Acacia instead of going to court.  That saves money on both sides.  Plus it usually results in a better deal, greater certainty, and a quicker resolution.  Portfolios added last year in the medical device area and automotive technologies are starting to generate returns.  Our estimates are unchanged.  Substantially stronger results are possible.

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