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August 22nd 2011 3:13 pm

When Motorola formed Motorola Mobility in January 2011, how did they divvy up the patents?

One number that keeps floating around after Google announced their acquisition of Motorola Mobility is 17,000. That's the number of patents that Motorola Mobility has in their portfolio.

When the mobile devices division was split off from Motorola earlier this year, how did they divide the patents between the two companies? I would assume that anything that was granted to employees working in the mobile devices division was automatically assigned to Motorola Mobility?

I'm not sure how that sort of patent issue works in large organizations though. When a patent is granted, does it go to the entire corporation? Or is it assigned to a specific department or subsidiary within the corporation?
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dave's pick

Patents are assigned to the company, not an individual department, because the company is a legal entity and the department is just an internal division within that company that can be reorganized or dissolved at any time. As for subsidiaries, if they are legally established as separate companies, then they can hold their own patents, though those patents can be transferred to the parent company if desired.

Should a company dissolve and there is a successor company, the patent belongs to the successor company. So Motorola's patents had to be assigned to one of its two successor companies, either Mobility or Solutions, earlier this year. I would assume that the patents were divided according to which company would need them the most, since the division was designed to create two independent companies (one of which was sold) and it wouldn't make sense for them to still be tied together by patents.

I am not a lawyer, I was just reading the PatentLYO blog. Fascinating stuff.­/patent­/2011­/08­/googles­-purchase­-...­/patent­/2010­/09­/tri­-star­-electron...
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