Fighting Over Nortel's Patents



5:00 PM -- Here's an interesting twist if Nortel Networks Ltd. sells off its LTE patents: The geezers could get involved.

Bert Hill of The Ottawa Citizen spoke recently to David Steer, a Nortel retiree whose name is on 80 Nortel patents and considers himself the owner of the rights.

It comes down to retirement benfits. Nortel's health and welfare trust has disintegrated in the bankruptcy process. Some benefits are fading away. The pension might survive in skeletal form, but that's not the kind of pension program that employees had been paying taxes on.

So, as Hill notes briefly today in a business roundup, Steer has been writing letters to the courts (US and Canada) claiming the agreements he'd signed with Nortel "were obtained under false pretenses and are void as a consequence of fraudulent activity." With no agreement, the patent rights would go back to the inventors such as Steer.

It's easy to root for Steer here. Whether he has a real case is up to someone with more legal training than I have.

Nortel reportedly was shopping its LTE patents earlier this year, drawing interest from Mosaid Semiconductor , BlackBerry , and Wi-LAN Inc. (Toronto: WIN) (Nasdaq: WILN). Nortel reportedly was seeking $1 billion. (See The LTE Scraps From Nortel's Table and Rumor: Nortel Seeks Bids for Its Patents.)

Hat tip: Brad Casemore on Twitter.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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