updated 08:30 am EDT, Fri July 1, 2011
Apple and RIM among top winners of Nortel patents
Nortel on Friday unveiled the winners of its patent auction. A consortium made up of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, RIM, and Sony has spent a total of $4.5 billion. Ericsson and RIM have revealed that they spent $340 million and $770 million respectively, while the others have remained secretive.
The 6,000-plus patents sold off mostly focus on wireless technology, including LTE-based 4G and Wi-Fi. Networking technology, optical data, service providers, chips, search, and social networking were also part of the auction.
Approval depends on a joint American and Canadian hearing due July 11. If greenlit, the sale should finalize before the end of the summer. For Nortel, the timing is vital as it just obtained an extension on a creditors' proceeding until December 14 and may need the funding.
The acquisition by a consortium rather than by separate bids may be partly reassuring to Google, which put in an initial $900 million "stalking horse" bid to raise the minimum price and prevent a company like RIM from buying patents without help. Google won't have the option of using the patents as a defense, but a consortium may prevent some of the anti-Android lawsuits of the kind filed by Apple and Microsoft.
The buying group will likely benefit by having a hedge against companies that might try to sue them, particularly over networking. Nokia may face a setback since it has argued that it owns 3G technology but now can't make similar claims for 4G and certain parts of Wi-Fi.