Is Apple looking to buy this innovative company?

apple privaris
Apple has purchased almost all the patents held by Privaris, a biometric security company.

Apple appears to be in the process of buying a startup that has developed some fascinating fingerprint-scanning technology.

Privaris, a Charlottesville, Virginia, based startup, has recently transferred 26 of its 31 patents to Apple (AAPL, Tech30). Privaris primarily makes tiny fingerprint readers that attach to your key chain.

But Privaris also had a bunch of patents that could potentially make the iPhone's TouchID sensor a whole lot more useful.

For example, one of Privaris' patents covers the ability to use a touchscreen and fingerprint reader at the same time. Another invention of Privaris' could allow you to open a door with your iPhone by scanning your fingerprint and holding your phone up to a reader, similar to how you pay for items with Apple Pay.

Most of Privaris' patent portfolio is made up of fingerprint and touchscreen technology to make transactions, control machines, and back up personal data.

It's not clear exactly what Apple might do with that technology -- if anything. Apple buys, licenses and patents a lot of intellectual property that it never makes use of.

Apple acquired its first three Privaris patents on December 19, 2012, and Apple bought most of the other Privaris patents on October 2014.

Apple and Privaris declined to comment.

"We have potentially found Apple's next acquisition," said Mikhail Avady, founder of SmartUp, a legal technology company out of Atlanta.

Avady, who first discovered that Privaris' patents were transferred to Apple, noted that none of Privaris' founders have changed their LinkedIn profiles to Apple, so the potential deal might not yet have been completed. Apple does not typically publicize the small companies it buys.

"I think this might be in the works," Avady said.

Privaris has raised $29 million in funding. Its products can serve as a badge to unlock your office door. It can even add an extra layer of security for an RSA SecurID token before you log into a computer.

The company also sold four "smart card" patents to a company called 1PerfecId in August 2012. Privaris itself only holds onto one remaining patent of its original 31.

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