Finally, an Excuse to Mention the Compaq iPaq in a Headline

Qualcomm picks up some mobile patents with a storied past.

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As Sean Hollister of The Verge reports, chipmaker Qualcomm is buying some patents from HP. The news has a pleasantly nostalgic tinge, because the intellectual property in question includes stuff from Palm (which HP acquired in 2010) and Compaq’s iPaq PDA line (which it bought way back in 2002):

Qualcomm is beefing up its patent portfolio with the remants of Hewlett-Packard’s smartphone history. The mobile processor and radio giant has just announced that it has acquired 1,400 mobile patents and patent applications from the computer company, including intellectual property from Palm, iPAQ, and Bitfone. The company’s press release doesn’t include many other details, such as how much Qualcomm paid for the patents, but says the intellectual property includes “fundamental mobile operating system techniques.” Qualcomm writes that the aquisition “will enable the company to offer even more value to current and future licensees.”

I’m a tad surprised to learn that HP doesn’t covet these patents itself — especially since the company says it wants to get back into the smartphone business. But it isn’t startling that Qualcomm, whose chips and other technologies are key ingredients in lots of today’s mobile devices, wants to beef up its patent portfolio. The more patents the company has, the more it can do without fear of being sued.

There’s no reason to think that Qualcomm owning Palm and iPaq patents will lead to anybody making anything the least bit reminiscent of what those companies once produced — or even that we consumers will ever see anything that obviously relates to this deal in any tangible way. Still it’s fun to think that the mobile gadgets of tomorrow might carry a smidge of DNA from the Palm V and iPaq 3955.