San Francisco patent company RPX today announced it is purchasing more than 4,000 telecommunications patents from Rockstar, an Apple-led consortium that previously acquired the patents from bankrupt Nortel Networks. The sale will net Rockstar $900 million, a fraction of the $4.5 billion the conglomerate of technology companies paid for the entire patent portfolio in 2011, although many of the high-value patents were previously dispersed to the consortium's members.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, RPX confirmed its subsidiary RPX Clearinghouse, will license the patents to a syndicate of technology companies that include Google and Cisco Systems. RPX is making the patents available with non-exclusive licenses to all syndicate members, whose funds helped pay for the purchase. RPX also will license the patents to outside companies under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, and members of the Rockstar consortium will retain licenses for the patents.
Rockstar was formed in 2011 when Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony joined together to purchase patents from bankrupt communications company Nortel. The consortium purchased 6,000 patents, with 4,000 patents being held under the Rockstar umbrella and the remaining 2,000 patents being distributed to member companies.
The sale of the patents follows Rockstar's rather unsuccessful attempts to license the patents. The consortium also filed patent infringement lawsuits against a variety of technology companies with Google and Cisco recently settling their disputes for undisclosed amounts. As part of this patent sale to RPX, Rockstar has agreed to drop its existing suits against Samsung, LG and HTC.