Google in $900 Million Patent Bid

Google to Acquire Nortel's 6,000 Patents?

Could Google be about to acquire Canadian telecom equipment maker Nortel Network's remaining patents and applications? Google have bid $900 million for around 6,000 wired, wireless and digital communication technology patents, including patents for 4G, data networking, optical, voice and semiconductors. In a press release, Nortel claim their "extensive patent portfolio touches nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well, including Internet search and social networking." George Riedel, Chief Strategy Officer and President of Business Units at Nortel also emphasises the worth of the patent portfolio, calling the sale "an unprecedented opportunity to acquire one of the most extensive and compelling patent portfolios to ever come on the market."

Nortel have selected the Google bid as their starting point, or "stalking-horse bid." Google could potentially be planning to use these patents in the lawsuit with Oracle over the Android operating system, something that they hint at in a blog post discussing the bid:

"If successful, we hope this portfolio will not only create a disincentive for others to sue Google, but also help us, our partners and the open source community—which is integrally involved in projects like Android and Chrome—continue to innovate."

In the past, Google have called for patent reform, stating that the majority of patent lawsuits filed against them are the work of "patent trolls." However, in their most recent patent blog, Google refer to a recent "explosion in patent litigation" and claim that, in lieu of a patent reform, their best defence is to amass a patent portfolio of their own. "After a lot of thought, we've decided to bid for Nortel's patent portfolio in the company's bankruptcy auction," Google conclude. "In the absence of meaningful reform, we believe it's the best long-term solution for Google, our users and our partners."

Subject to Canadian and U.S. court approvals, the Nortel patent auction is expected in June 2011.

Jessica Thornsby

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