updated 09:30 pm EDT, Mon June 13, 2011
Microsoft opposes Nortel patent sale conditions
Microsoft in a last-minute filing objected to the terms set out for Nortel's patent sale after Google's $900 million bid. The Windows developer objected to terms of the "stalking horse" bid that let Google break existing licensing deals. Any patent deals had to remain enforceable and transfer to whichever company won a patent bid, Microsoft told the Delaware court.
The objection came with a vested interest for Microsoft, which could see its current patent shakedown campaign challenged under the current terms. Microsoft believes it has a free, perpetual, worldwide license to all of Nortel's patents since 2006 and would likely see those deals terminated that it has been or might want to be using to intimidate Android manufacturers. Google made its bid to force a minimum bid and prevent not just patent trolls from making easy bids but also to discourage companies that clearly sought to undermine its platforms.
Using its combined patent pool, Microsoft has been hoping to price Android out of the market by charging untenably high royalty rates, but only to vendors that didn't agree to use Windows Phone as well.
Microsoft was joined in objections by HP, Motorola, and Nokia. The last of the three had a vested interest in getting the patents since it has already pushed for royalty collections on all 3G devices, suing companies like Apple that refused to bend, and would likely want to use Nortel patents to demand the same for 4G.