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Why would Samsung want BlackBerry anyway? In a word, patents

Opening Day Of Mobile World Congress 2014Opening Day Of Mobile World Congress 2014
Shin Jong-Kyun, CEO of Samsung Electronics, holds a new Galaxy S5 smartphone during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain in Feb. 2014.Photograph by Angel Navarrete — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Both Samsung and BlackBerry quickly put the kibosh on a report Wednesday afternoon that the two are engaged in takeover talks. But why would the world’s biggest smartphone company pay a rumored $7.5 billion for a Canadian tech company whose glory days are past? Answer: Its rich intellectual property portfolio—especially all its juicy security innovations.

The excitement was triggered by a Reuters story that cited documents about the potential transaction as the source of its information. Samsung actually has made at least one play for BlackBerry (BBRY) before, in 2012. As to this latest rumor, the alleged takeover target was the first to refute that a deal is in the works.

“BlackBerry has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry,” the company said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. “BlackBerry’s policy is not to comment on rumors or speculation, and accordingly it does not intend to comment further.”

Samsung’s comment was shorter: “Media reports of the acquisition are groundless.”

At the center of the speculation is BlackBerry’s healthy intellectual property portfolio, 44,000 patents and still growing. Last October, for example, the company won at least 27 new ones—covering everything from conference-calling interfaces to touch screens to security features for wearable technologies such as smart watches, eyeglasses and fitness bands. Security continues to be BlackBerry’s biggest selling point with businesses. Just ask the Sony movie studio division, which “resorted” to outdated BlackBerrys to restart communications after its security breach last Thanksgiving.

Although it looked like the mobile patent wars might cool off after several settlements late in 2014, this year kicked off with a skirmish between Apple and Ericsson over patent royalties related to wireless communications. BlackBerry used to be pretty litigious: It even took on celebrity Ryan Seacrest over its keyboard! But these days it is more focused on trying to convince smartphone buyers that its technology is cool again. Or at least relevant.

Whether or not any sort of BlackBerry-Samsung deal actually happens, the development highlights next wave of innovation (and litigation) in mobile technology: one centered on access control methods and containing corporate breaches in an increasingly mobile world.

This item first appeared in the Jan. 15 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.

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