Craig McCaw-backed Pendrell makes a big patent buy

Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures may be the best known of the patent holding firms in the Seattle area. But another player with ties to a different wealthy Seattle techie is starting to stake its claim.

Pendrell, a Kirkland company formerly known as ICO Global Communications and led by telecommunications billionaire Craig McCaw, announced today that it recently purchased 1,300 U.S. and foreign patents. The patents are tied to a number of technologies, from wireless handsets to video streaming to security to e-commerce software.

“These patents greatly enhance Pendrell’s portfolio in technological areas that will be important for years to come,” said Ben Wolff, the former CEO of Clearwire who now heads Pendrell. “Our approach has been to obtain rights to key, strategic innovations which benefit our partners, customers and shareholders. The inventions we have acquired are being used today by a wide range of leading handset, tablet, computer and consumer electronics manufacturers, online retailers, content providers, infrastructure vendors and network operators.”

Pendrell did not detail from whom it purchased the patents or the price it paid, but said they occurred through five separate transactions with “leading technology firms in the U.S., Europe and Asia.”

In addition to Intellectual Ventures, Pendrell competes against Acacia Research Corporation, Coller IP Management, Rovi, RPX and others. The publicly-traded company — which divested its satellite communications holdings last year — employed 38 people as of December 31. Eagle River, the investment firm of Craig McCaw, owns 65 percent of the voting shares in the company.