Microsoft, Apple, and other companies in a consortium have received approval for a $4.5 billion sale of Nortel wireless technology patents.
led by Microsoft and Apple further cemented their victory over Google in a
high-stakes auction for Nortel's wireless technology patents, with judges in
the United States and Canada approving the $4.5 billion transaction.
Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross, in Wilmington, Del., and Ontario Superior Court
Judge Geoffrey Morawetz signaled their approval in a joint session, according to Bloomberg
. The case itself is Nortel
Networks Inc., 09-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware
companies in the Rockstar Bidco LP consortium include Sony, Ericsson and EMC.
The group ended up battling a combined Google and Intel for the 6,000 patents
and patent applications at issue.
for bankruptcy in January 2009, and began selling off pieces of the company. After
selling off most of its businesses, Nortel still had thousands of viable
patents in reserve for the right bidder. "One of a company's best defenses
against this kind of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent
portfolio, as this helps maintain your freedom to develop new products and
services," Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president and general counsel,
wrote in an April 4 posting on the Official Google Blog
Google offered Nortel some $900 million for those patents, with the idea of
creating an intellectual-property moat for its Android mobile operating system.
Android has been the target of increased litigation by Microsoft, Apple and
other companies that have fired off lawsuits at manufacturers loading the
open-source software onto their mobile devices.
weeks, Microsoft has convinced several manufacturers to pay it royalties on
their Android-based devices, and is currently locked in battle with Motorola
and Barnes & Noble over it what it claims are intellectual-property
violations in those companies' use of Android on their mobile devices.
Meanwhile, Apple is embroiled in lawsuits with HTC, Samsung and Motorola over
the use of Android technology.
Just to make
things a little more interesting for Google, the search-engine giant finds
itself the target of a massive lawsuit by Oracle, which claims Android violates
its Java-related patents and copyrights; a loss in that case would have
widespread repercussions for Android's spread.
not sell Android to the manufacturers who load the operating system on their
devices, but it does make money off selling mobile ads. Google has previously
stated that its mobile ad business operates at a run-rate of $1 billion
Some of Nortel's
patents covered the LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology used by many smartphones
currently on the market, and could have provided Google with cover as it seeks
to repel all these legal challenges. With the ball now firmly in the hands of
its rivals, though, it remains to be seen whether Google's position now becomes
that much more precarious. Certainly, the intense legal battles over Android
will continue unabated.
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