Device operating systems

Done Deal for Nortel Patents?

8:35 AM -- The gavel has fallen for the last time on a Nortel Networks Ltd. asset disposal now that the bankruptcy courts have approved the sale of the Canadian company's patent portfolio for US$4.5 billion to a consortium known as Rockstar Bidco LP. (See Group Buys Nortel Patents for $4.5B.)

But the story may not end there as the U.S. Department of Justice has been asked to take a closer look.

The American Antitrust Institute (AAI) wants the DoJ to investigate the patent purchase by Rockstar Bidco -- the group comprising Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), BlackBerry and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) -- which was reported here in the The Washington Post. Given that the Rockstar group has three of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s main smartphone operating system rivals, the AAI is worried about how those companies will use their new patent powers.

The AAI said in its press statement: "The AAI warns that their collective control over the massive Nortel portfolio could enable and incent them to enforce the patents to suppress mobile device competition generally and open source competition in that field in particular."

It's bizarre to think of Google as the little guy, but in this patent case, they are. It will be interesting to see whether the DoJ takes up the challenge to investigate the Rockstars.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:59:39 PM
re: Done Deal for Nortel Patents?

This is an interesting story with some behind-the-scenes detail from the auction, based on court hearing transcripts:


Apparently, the auction started with three companies – Apple, Google and Intel -- and two groups – Rockstar Bidco and Norpax, which was led by patent company RPX Corp.

So, Apple, Intel and Google started bidding in the auction individually. Then, after 5 rounds Apple joined the Rockstar group; and after 8 rounds, Intel teamed up with Google until they were ultimately outbid by the Rockstar group in round 19.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:58:40 PM
re: Done Deal for Nortel Patents?

An update: Canadian government says it won't block the patents sale:


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