Nortel Sells Patents for $4.5B

A consortium of major companies comprising Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), BlackBerry and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) has won the auction to buy Nortel Networks Ltd. 's remaining patents and patent applications for US$4.5 billion.

The consortium, which triumphed following a multi-day auction, will share more than 6,000 patents and patent applications covering multiple mobile technologies (including Long Term Evolution (LTE)), optical, voice and processors.

Nortel notes in its announcement about the auction result that the patent portfolio "touches nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well, including Internet search and social networking."

Nortel notes there was "significant interest" from "major companies around the world" in the patents. Other names linked to the patent sale prior to the auction include Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and patent-holding specialist RPX Corp. The auction process was triggered by a $900 million bid by Google in April. (See Stage Is Set for Nortel's Patent Auction and Google Bids $900M for Nortel's Patents.)

The consortium members have not split the cost of the patents equally, however. RIM is paying $770 million, while Ericsson notes that its contribution is $340 million.

The sale to the consortium requires court approval, with a hearing set for July 21. Nortel expects the sale to close during the third quarter of 2011.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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