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iVLG News Roundup Week 42: Patents, Investors, and Tankers

Patent Wars

Apple Proposes to Pay Google $1 per iPhone
Motorola Mobility, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google, and Apple have been engaged in a messy dispute over patent rights. On Wednesday, Apple formally announced to the court its willingness to pay Motorola for a license to use its standard-essential wireless patents, but only if the per-unit royalty rate does not exceed $1.

Apple declared that if the court sets the FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) rate at or below $1, then it will take a license and start paying right away. If the court does not set a FRAND rate at or below $1, Apple is prepared to exhaust all of its legal options before it pays Google a penny.

Investor News

New Investor Raises Questions about Future of Netflix
Activist investor, Carl Icahn, disclosed late yesterday that he has purchased a 9.98 percent stake in Netflix. Icahn is famous for making an investment, then advocating for a change or quick sale of the company. If his efforts aren’t fruitful, he typically nominates directors who will accomplish his goals.

Netflix has certain defenses to ward off any aggressive maneuvers by Icahn. It has a staggered board—only three of its directors will be up for election at the next annual meeting, which means it would take a full two years to acquire a majority of the board. However, Netflix does not currently have a takeover defense, or poison pill, in place. We’d expect that Netflix will quickly adopt a poison pill to deter Icahn from coordinating his actions with other shareholders.

Kirkland Startup Pirq Raises $1.2 Million
Pirq announced Thursday that it has received investments in a round led by Rally Capital, which is a Kirkland-based firm run by former Nextel CEO Dennis Weibling. Pirq plans to use the funds to buy and customize tablets that are outfitted with Pirq’s software and shipped to customers.

Pirq has developed a digital punch card that lets regular customers log every time they buy something at a store. The store then rewards them for their loyalty with various deals and incentives. Unlike paper punch cards, this new technology allows merchants to track when customers come to their store and how much they spend, which ultimately allows the stores to customize their deals to specific customers and demographics.

Regional News

Boeing to Open First Tanker Lab in Seattle
Boeing announced that it has opened its first tanker testing lab at Boeing Field in Seattle. The KC-46 Tanker lab will support testing in the research and development of the U.S. Air Force’s aerial re-fueling tanker. Boeing secured the $35 billion contract to build these tankers last year.

Boeing intends to open three more laboratories at Boeing Field and another in Everett by the end of 2013.