(Bloomberg) Collet Capital, the private-equity firm founded by British financier Jeremy Coller, is in talks with multiple bidders to join in an offer for BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY), a person familiar with the discussions said.
Coller will put up some financing as part of the bids, said the person, who asked not be identified because the talks are private. The firm, which buys and sells intellectual property, is seeking to acquire about 10 percent of BlackBerry's patents if it makes a deal, the person said.
The patents of interest to Coller cover technologies ranging from push notifications to messaging, according to the person. BlackBerry's intellectual property accounts for as much as 20 percent of the company's total value, the person said.
BlackBerry, which announced in August that it was entertaining bids, has drawn a number of interested parties, though little in the way of concrete offers. Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (FFH), BlackBerry's largest investor, signed a tentative agreement to acquire the smartphone maker for $4.7 billion last month -- without naming its buyout partners or showing that it has lined up financing. Cerberus Capital Management LP is looking at BlackBerry's books, while Lenovo Group Ltd. (992) has also expressed interest in a BlackBerry deal, according to people familiar with the matter.
Coller, which has offices in London, New York and Hong Kong, is working with multiple parties to ensure that it's part of a successful deal, the person with knowledge of the talks said. In addition to offering upfront financing, Coller may also share royalties from licensing the patents with the winning bidder, the person said.
BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, who walked away from management positions in the company in recent years, are also contemplating a bid. They said on Oct. 10 that they're working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) to explore the idea.
Shira Goldman, a spokeswoman for Coller in New York, said the company doesn't comment on speculation about its investments. Lisette Kwong, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry, also declined to comment, as did representatives of Fairfax and Lenovo. Mike Sitrick, a spokesman for Lazaridis and Fregin, said the two men had no comment.
Samsung's Trademark Application Points to Extended Warranty
Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) filed for a U.S. trademark that may indicate the Korean maker of mobile devices is planning to compete with rival Apple Inc. over extended warranties.
Both companies manufacture smart phones and are presently involved in a patent dispute in federal court in San Jose, California.
Samsung is seeking to register "Samsung Protection Plus" as a trademark for "providing extended warranties on consumer electronic products and appliances," according to database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The trademark application was filed Oct. 15.
Apple Inc. (AAPL)'s extended warranty is known as Applecare Protection Plan. The Cupertino, California-based company was sued by a Belgian consumer group in January over its extended warranty practices.
The lawsuit alleges that Apple misled consumers by advertising that its products had a one-year warranty and then selling a two-year extended warranty. European Union customers have an automatic two-year warranty on products they buy.
Facebook Tells Developer to Dismantle BreakYourFacebook site
Facebook Inc. (FB) sent a cease-and-desist e-mail to the developer of a tool that allows users to take scheduled breaks from the social media site.
The developer, Cody Romano, said on his blog that he received the e-mail from the Menlo Park, California-based company objecting to the web app he created, "Break Your Facebook." He said he created the tool in the wake of recent revelations about the National Security Administration's alleged snooping into users e-mail and social-media accounts, and the "frenetic pace" and "poor quality" of Facebook's News Feed feature.
In the e-mail, Facebook said that Romano's breakyourfacebook.com domain name infringes the social media company's trademarks, and demanded that he quit using the name "Break Your Facebook" and disable the website.
The company also warned him not to "sell, offer to sell, or transfer" the domain name to a third party, and told him he should let his Internet domain name registration expire.
Romano said on his website that he knows he has to "break my app and let the domain die" because he lacks the resources for a legal battle with Facebook. He did take issue with the tone of the cease-and-desist letter, saying that he was "turned off" by the e-mail's language.
Norwegian Director Plays Trick on Potential Infringers of Film
A Norwegian director is having the last laugh at those who are downloading a copy of his film through a website that uses the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol, according to the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website.
Johan Kaos uploaded a copy of his film "Pornopung" to the Pirate Bay website, saying he thought the movie would end up there anyway and he wanted to have some fun with those who used the site to download and share it without authorization, according to TorrentFreak.
The film is a comedy about two men who give a third man advice about how to be attractive to women, with one of their tips involving removal of body hair from his genitals, TorrentFreak reported.
Kaos said the film he uploaded to PirateBay starts with 10 minutes of the film just as he made it, with the remaining two hours showing only an image of a shaven scrotum, according to TorrentFreak.
Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Goldman Ordered to Advance Ex-Programmer Fees for N.Y. Case
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. must advance computer programmer Sergey Aleynikov the legal fees he needs to fight New York state charges that he stole confidential source code from the company, a federal judge ruled.
Goldman Sachs at this time doesn't have to pay the fees Aleynikov incurred defending federal charges that led to his conviction and imprisonment before the verdict was overturned, said U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark, New Jersey. He said the two sides must engage in a pretrial exchange of evidence on that question.
"Immediate advancement of fees is required, subject only to an unsecured undertaking to repay them if the applicant is unsuccessful in the underlying litigation," McNulty said in an opinion made public yesterday.
Aleynikov was convicted in federal court in Manhattan in 2010 of stealing hundreds of thousands of lines of code and sentenced to 97 months in prison.
He was ordered freed in February 2012 when the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York reversed his conviction. In August of that year, he was arraigned in Manhattan on state charges of unlawful use of scientific material and duplication of computer-related material. He was the subject of a sympathetic profile in Vanity Fair magazine.
Goldman Sachs, which employed Aleynikov from May 2007 through June 2009, argued that it didn't have to pay his fees in a state prosecution because he wasn't an officer of the company, even though he was a vice president.
"It may be the case that Goldman (or the industry of which it is a part) has been profligate in conferring the title of vice president," the judge wrote. "If so, Goldman must bear the consequences of that profligacy. Goldman might easily have chosen to be more sparing with job titles, or to confer them in some other way."
Michael DuVally, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on the ruling.
The case is Aleynikov v. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., 12-cv-05994, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).