Apple and Research In Motion are part of a winning consortium of six companies buying bankrupt Nortel Networks’ remaining portfolio of 6,000 patents and patent applications. The group includes Microsoft, EMC, Sweden’s Ericsson and Sony.
The price – $4.5 billion (3.1 billion euros) – was about three times what the sale had been expected to raise, underlining the defensive value of intellectual property in the fast-changing telecoms world, where established players are seeking to keep out newer rivals.
Google and Intel lost out in the hotly contested auction for mobile phone, data networking, optical, voice, internet and semiconductor technology.
Germany-based intellectual property analyst and blogger Florian Mueller said: “Google lost an unprecedented opportunity to acquire a major bargaining chip that would strengthen it at the mobile industry’s intellectual property negotiating table.”
“I’m afraid it won’t get a similar opportunity in quantitative and qualitative terms any time soon.”
The most prized patents relate to mobile broadband technology used in emerging 4G standards such as long term evolution (LTE).
“The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world,” said George Riedel, chief strategy officer and president of business units at Nortel.
The sale is subject to Canadian and US court approvals.
The patents are the last major assets to be sold by Nortel Networks, a once-giant Canadian technology company which imploded as the tech bubble burst, and filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009.