All of Nortel’s patents have been sold to a consortium consisting of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Sony, and Research In Motion. More than 6000 wireless, 4G, networking, optical, voice, Internet, service provider, and semiconductor patents have been sold off to every major mobile player in the market, except one: Google. It seems that Google not only lost out on the 6000 patents, but that they’re now open to 6000 more lawsuits. Alright, that’s a slight exaggeration on our part, but losing out on this many patents could directly contribute to Google getting sued a lot more in the near future for patent violations, which is why people bid on these things in the first place.
While the patent bidding war has come to a close, it’s still a subject to review by both the U.S. and Canadian courts, despite Apple and others being cleared by the Department of Justice in the U.S. to bid on the patents.
Google, and more specifically Android, has already been considered a “suit magnet” by IP expert Florian Mueller and others in the industry who believe that the free operating system breaks a lot of other people’s patents. Google may have set the initial price at $900 million, but they clearly got left behind by the huge bid from the consortium. Apparently Google is a little bit disappointed that this isn’t a win for “open” innovation, as if somehow buying patents means “open” for everyone else. In a statement to Bloomberg they went on the record with “This outcome is disappointing for anyone who believes that open innovation benefits users and promotes creativity and competition … we will keep working to reduce the current flood of patent litigation that hurts both innovators and consumers.”
We don’t buy it, but that’s another article for another day. At this point all the power from the patents is in the hands of the consortium, unless the long arm of the law has something to say about it. Currently it’s being reported by Bloomberg that RIM has paid $770 million for their portion of the newly acquired asset, while Ericsson has spent $340 million. All of EMC, Apple, Microsoft, and Sony have failed to be reached for comment at this point.
Our money is on Google publicly contesting the sale, and contesting it very loudly, until it passes through the U.S. courts.