20 April 2017
Ottawa
Reporter: Mark Dugdale

WiLAN diversifies in wake of patent licensing challenges


WiLAN is acquiring an internet of things company for $47.4 million as it looks to diversify away from its core patent licensing business.

The deal for International Road Dynamics, which specialises in transportation, was struck on the same day as WiLAN announced plans to rebrand, spin-off its patent licensing business and focus on acquiring internet of things companies and technology.

James Skippen, executive chairman of WiLAN, explained during a conference call: “The legal environment for patent licensing business has undergone significant changes. These changes have altered the performance and outlook for participants, creating some headwinds to growth and lumpiness in financial performance.”

“Because the environment for patent licensing companies has changed so much, we have concluded that patent licensing as a standalone business will not meet our long-term objectives as a public company.”

“The board of management believes that the best path to grow the business and ensure shareholder value is to acquire promising growth companies and support them while they grow their businesses. The knowledge and experience we have gained as a leader in the patent licensing industry can be applied to identifying and evaluating promising technology businesses.”

WiLAN will become Quarterhill on 1 June and the patent licensing business will continue as a subsidiary under the WiLAN brand.

Skippen was optimistic about WiLAN’s future, despite the change in strategy: “WiLAN has a very strong established brand in the intellectual property licensing industry, which we will continue to build-on.”

WiLAN generated revenues of $92.9 million last year. “The future focus will be on generating positive cash flow and consistent performance from the patent business,” added Skippen, who has taken on the role of executive chairman, having previously served as president and CEO.

Skippen is taking temporary charge of WiLAN while a permanent head is sought. He also expects to play a part-time role in the business in the future.

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