Tech giants fight tooth and nail for Nortel patents

A huge scrap is taking place in the schoolyard, as bankrupt Nortel’s final patents go under the hammer.

The range of patents, which have been developed for broadband and networking, have caught the eyes of Google, Apple, ZTE and Intel who will be fighting tooth and nail to get a piece.

According to Florian Mueller, patent expert who has been following the auction, the most prized patents will be the ones related to LTE.

He told TechEye: “The high level of interest was totally foreseeable and it is more than likely that the bidding prices will beat expectations.

“We may have to wait to see the outcome of these patent auctions until later on, but in terms of importance this is the largest IT Portfolio of patents since I can remember.

“The sheer quantity is unprecedented. It’s important, and companies want these because the patents relate to LTE, which will in the future appear on numerous devices.”

Judging by their previous records none of them will be giving up without a fight, as they all try to boost their patent portfolios and protect their intellectual property in the future.

Back in April, when Nortel announced that it was facing bankruptcy, Google lurked around its half-finished grave and became a stalking horse. In fact, it wanted the remainder of the patents for $900 million.

RIM said “neigh!” to that particular stalking horse and decided to battle it out, attempting to top its $900 million bid.

At the time it said it was considering whether to bid alone for the assets or to find a partner to save money and and stop Google from getting its hands on the gold, which Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief of the company, once described as a “national treasure.” Like hockey, maple syrup and RIM.

Others also took the opportunity to get one over. Of course, it’s the industry’s best interest which is at heart.

Microsoft earlier this month pleaded to the US Department of Justice in a bid to stop the search engine from buying up all the patents. Its reasoning was that Google could not recognise Microsoft’s existing licensing agreements.

The giant was joined by HP and Nokia who both had their brows well and truly furrowed. To them, the terms of the auction will terminate current licensing agreements they have with Nortel.

It means that Google, if it succeeds in winning the auction, could wave its legal papers in the faces of all and sundry, suing them for infringement or upping licence prices.  

“Makers will more than likely need to have the patents, which are being sold off,  to place into their [LTE] device, and as a result be able to licence them off a company,” said Mr Mueller.

“This is something the likes of Microsoft and Nokia have been campaigning for, going to the courts and asking that it put into the selling terms that the company who buys the patents will be prepared to licence them out.”