The patent war between content delivery networks Akamai Technologies (AKAM) and Limelight Networks (LLNW) could drag on for years, FBR analyst David Hilal warns. And don’t expect Akamai to bail Limelight out with a last-second acquisition any time soon, he says.
Earlier this year, a jury found Limelight guilty of infringing a patent owned by MIT, licensed exclusively to Limelight’s larger rival Akamai. If a federal judge issues a permanent injunction against Limelight later this year, its appeal could drag on for 12 to 18 months, extending the patent war into 2010, Hilal said in a note.
Will Akamai buy Limelight to put it out of its misery — and pick up a bunch of high profile clients like Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN) on the cheap? Probably not for a while, Hilal says. He thinks Akamai will wait until a judge issues the injunction against Limelight, which he says could happen in Q4 of this year, before making an offer. An injunction would throw a huge wrench into Limelight’s business and would likely push its shares down even further, giving Akamai a lower take-out price.
In the meantime, we believe Limelight’s legal limbo will challenge its ability to sign up and retain customers, which should benefit Akamai, and, to a lesser extent, rival Level 3 (LVLT).
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