Nortel Patents Sold for $4.5 Billion to Consortium Which Includes Apple

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Nortel announced that they had concluded an auction to sell of its patents and patent applications to a consortium consisting of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, RIM and Sony. The final winning bid was $4.5 billion and includes over 6,000 patents and patent applications covering wireless, 4G, networking optical, voice internet, semiconductors and more.

"Following a very robust auction, we are pleased at the outcome of the auction of this extensive patent portfolio", said George Riedel, Chief Strategy Officer and President of Business Units, Nortel. "The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world."

We had previously reported that Apple had been interested in buying up the patents off Nortel Networks which had filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The interest in the portfolio was significant due to the broad reach of the patents, especially in the area of wireless networking and LTE technology. Google was also said to be one of the early interested parties by placing an opening bid of $900 million on the patents.

One research firm has estimated that there are 105 patent families deemed essential to deployment of LTE (4G) technology, with Nokia controlling 57 of those families. Ericsson is said to control 14 families, while Nortel, Qualcomm, and Sony are each reported to control about seven families. The companies that are part of the winning bid will presumably provide access to these patents to those companies.

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Top Rated Comments

dethmaShine Avatar
169 months ago
Google's response

“This outcome is disappointing for anyone who believes that open innovation benefits users and promotes creativity and competition,”

Google's hypocrisy goes to 11.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JAT Avatar
169 months ago
Oh god, Google and Nokia not listed. Can't wait for the next round of annoying patent wars. :rolleyes:
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shartypants Avatar
169 months ago
Refreshing to see so many patents being sold to a consortium, hopefully that will cut down on suing, although I'm sure Google is not happy. Microsoft will probably help out Nokia since they are building their phones.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
169 months ago
Oh god, Google and Nokia not listed. Can't wait for the next round of annoying patent wars. :rolleyes:

Nokia has its own ammunition. Google, on the other hand....
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
169 months ago
So this "consortium" exists as an agreement between major players in the telecom industry to limit the use of these technologies to its members, thereby locking out new competitors?

Nope.

In my great-granddaddy's day they called that a "trust", and passed laws against it.

It's still against anti-trust laws to withhold a group of patents vital to an industry.

That's why the government had a little talk with Apple before they bid in the auction. All the other companies have a long history of licensing patents. Apple does not.

I also suspect this auction is involved with why Apple made a deal for Nokia licenses so suddenly. I think they were showing the government that they could play nice and/or it was a requirement to be a consortium member.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
s1m Avatar
169 months ago
I don't understand how does that company declare bankruptcy? Don't companies use their patents -> give them some steady income? Although "bankruptcy" is subjective, they just made 4,5billions, I don't think they're bankrupt any more :)

Bankruptcy in its purest form is having less assets than liabilities. The fact that you own a patent doesnt mean that you are actually earning money for a start. You could have the patent on cold fusion but not earning any money as no-one might be licensing the patent.

Also in terms of bankruptcy - the value attributed to the patent asset might be a lot less than the amount paid at this point. Think of it as a fire sale - for bankruptcy purposes they might value the patent a lot lower than it was eventually sold for.

Finally - although they got $4.5Bn for the patents - they might have had $10Bn in liabilities...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)