Nortel decided to extend the deadline for the start of the auction for its patents until June 27 citing “significant interest” from third parties. Today we learn that two Silicon Valley giants are significantly interested in Nortel’s war chest of more than five thousand wireless patents said to be worth well over a billion dollars. They are Apple and Intel, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Other bidders include Ericsson AB and a company called RPX Corp which “defensively buys up patents on behalf of other companies to stop them from being used against them by investors”.
Google agitated spirits by making public in April its intentions to bid a whopping $900 million for Nortel patents. The U.S. Justice Department issued an antitrust clearance for Google’s offer which has effectively set the barrier to entry too high for everyone except a few companies with deep pockets. This includes major tech player who are drawn to Nortel’s patent portfolio for the ability to shield them from eventual legal attacks by rivals and patent trolls. In addition, he who controls the patents gets to seek royalties from other companies that use patented technologies in their product. Look no further than the Apple-Nokia settlement which cost Apple hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the case of Google, some watchers claim the search firm needs those patents in order to but its way out of patent mess that is Android. Smelling trouble should Google win, Microsoft formally opposed the bid. The Windows maker wants assurances that any new owner of the intellectual property will honor Microsoft’s existing “worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license to all of Nortel’s patents”.
Microsoft isn’t alone in its opposition. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that companies which oppose Google’s bid include Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Mobility, Research in Motion, Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson and ZTE Corp.