Several automakers, including BMW, Audi and Daimler, agreed to acquire HERE Global (Nokia’s map business) for $2.8 billion, outbidding Uber and Baidu. According to Reuters, HERE’s primary competitor is Google Maps, and automakers are making it known that they want a part in the IP realm of map-related technologies.
Currently, HERE has 43 recently issued patents and 49 pending, published patent applications. Many of these patent applications describe and claim technology relating to map features as well as self-driving cars.
Part of the rationale for the acquisition may be to keep the patents out of the hands of rivals. Reuters reported that the CEO of Daimler stated, “With the joint acquisition of HERE, we want to secure the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, and customers in other industries.”
The automakers in the case will likely avoid many of the added costs and obstacles of bringing self-driving car technology to market with this acquisition. Such a transaction exemplifies how IP investment can be utilized to boost a company’s worth and may help it expand into different technological markets.