Ok, the REAL fight is on. Starboard and Blackboard both have slates of directors. Both claim that they intend to run the company more efficiently. Frankly, neither side is very convincing. Tessera spends money on developing new semiconductor technology and on collecting money from players that use technology that Tessera developed and owns. And then there's DOC.
The obvious problem is that progress in semiconductor manufacturing involves a checkerboard of inventions, and even when a company's path from this year's product to next year's product crosses Tessera-owned squares, it can be difficult to prove in court. In the absence of easily enforced patents, the process is extremely messy. It's possible to nudge inventiveness into concentrating on areas where infringement is easier to prove, but it would be absurd to direct a research organization to work ONLY on ideas that lead to easily-enforced patents. But that is what both sides claim they intend to do in cutting overhead.
Starboard talks of potential customers offended by past legal actions against them. I can't see how you avoid the occasional lawsuit (and constant threat of lawsuits) in enforcing IP ownership. Hurt feelings aren't a huge consideration in this sort of business. With few exceptions (where a person IS the company) companies don't have feelings.
This has to be about the cash hoard. So I'm listening: who will [credibly] offer stockholders the bigger chunk of cash?
Who can best leverage the IP is what is key to Tessera's health. Past lawsuits did and does hurt them now. That's why they formed TIPS and Invensas. Thy changed the names to mask who's IP was trying to be leveraged. Didn't work so well so far. Their IP is getting very outdated and soon there will be better technology used in the next generation of products. Will Tessera be part of that tech? Without new licensed IP is doesn't look like it, so where will the $ come from? MEMs is about all they have left from their most recent acquisition activities. Will that pan out? Will they find a board or CEO that knows how to, or will Starboard be the right one? Not sure if an outside entity is the right choice here, but Tessera sure hasn't done much to show they can either.
With the recent termination of so much talent I am not sure they can effectively run the company.
Tessera is not Rambus (which really DID try hard to collect royalties on prior art that came under the claims of their patents). You won't see the same "We'll bankrupt ourselves in court before we pay you" kind of resistance. What Tessera did was tough, probably as tough as you can get, but legitimate. Nobody is going to take licenses unless they are certain that they need to. Now maybe they want to avoid the kind of licenses Tessera used to use, but if the IP is worth it to customers they'll license it, and if they don't think they benefit enough from it, no license. Some of the stuff aimed at increasing yield and durability from the microPilar collection looks pretty generally useful. There's a lot of distribution layer housekeeping IP that's a bit long in the tooth, but lets a smallish shop get very dense parts out the door faster than newer approaches would.
As far as corporate relations go, it's probably more popular with the industry that Tessera no longer speaks of the substance of infringement disputes. The total blackout on licensing negotiations is probably more popular than any openness at all. But it's tough on us owners directly, and it's annoying to analysts, which is tough on us owners. And if Mr Intel smiles at Mr Tessera but doesn't take a license, I'm stuck with no new income and a stock that is depressed because analysts dislike the way they're treated.
But I have to think that a lot of the present battle is about who collects the nuisance fees when the cash hoard gets whacked up. Maybe someone hopes to turn it into an annuity. That's a problem whenever a company has a large underutilized asset. WE own it, but management gets to poke at it.