Google Loses Nortel Patents to Apple, Microsoft, Others
Google this week lost its bid to acquire 6,000 wireless technology patents held by Nortel, as a consortium of tech rivals offered up $4.5 billion for the portfolio.
Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research in Motion, and Sony joined forces to purchase the patents, which cover wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, service provider, semiconductors, and other patent portfolios.
"Following a very robust auction, we are pleased at the outcome of the auction of this extensive patent portfolio", George Riedel, chief strategy officer at Nortel, said in a statement. "The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world."
Nortel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2009, and started exploring the sale of its businesses and assets in June 2009. The company will presumably use the proceeds of the patent auction to pay off creditors.
In April, Google said it would make a "stalking horse" bid worth $900 million for all of Nortel's remaining patents and patent applications. In mid-June, the Justice Department said it had no objections to Google's bid, and allowed the auction, which started June 20, to proceed. This prompted objections from rivals like Microsoft, AT&T, and Verizon, who argued that the patents would give the search giant an unfair advantage.
In an April 4 blog post, Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president and general counsel, said that Google, as a "relatively young company," had not amassed the sort of patent portfolio owned by its competitors.