Nortel’s patent auction closed yesterday after a group of companies including Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion and Sony bid $4.5 billion for the company’s portfolio of 6,000 patents and patent applications.
Google, who placed a $900 million opening bid on the patents in April, was not among the winners.
“The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world,” Nortel Chief Strategy Officer George Riedel said in a statement.
The sale still has to be approved by bankruptcy courts in Canada and the United States, and Nortel expects the deal will close in the third quarter of this year. Ericsson said it contributed $340 million to the winning bid, and RIM said it paid $770 million. None of the other companies disclosed how much they paid for the patents.
Nortel’s patents span wireless technology and telecommunications, covering LTE, data networking, optical, voice, internet, service provider, semiconductors and even Internet search and social networking.
Google wanted the patents to protect itself from lawsuits, saying in April that a successful bid would create a “disincentive for others to sue Google.”
Many tech companies in the wireless space are embroiled in expensive legal fights over patents. Nortel’s patents will offer some protection against lawsuits for their new owners. The patent portfolio could be especially beneficial to Apple, who is currently fending off several different patent infringement suits over the technology used in the iPhone and iPad.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy in January 2009 and initially hoped to restructure the company, but in June 2009 the company announced it would not emerge from bankruptcy and decided to sell off its remaining businesses. Its patent portfolio is the largest remaining segment of its business.
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