Back in April, the bankrupt telecom manufacturer Nortel put its patent portfolio on the block via a US$900 million ‘stalking horse’ sale agreement with a relative newcomer to the market: Google. The arrangement set a minimum value for Nortel’s intellectual property on the open market, and presumably put Google in a solid position to eventually bid for the final package.
Apparently the bidding got a little too stratospheric for the search/Android giant to keep up. Nortel announced last night that the successful bid was $4.5 billion, and the patent suite (more than 6,000 inventions covering every corner of the mobile computing and telecommunications landscape) will go to an industry consortium full of strange bedfellows: Microsoft, Apple, Ericsson, EMC, Sony and RIM.
The patent sale, which is subject to court approval both in the US and in Nortel’s home jurisdiction of Canada, could mean additional headaches for Android handset manufacturers as they try to fend off patent challenges without indemnification from Google. Of course, Apple’s got patent troubles of its own, both from partner/competitor Samsung (see FOSSPatents’ comprehensive and terrifying battle chart) and from developer-targeting Lodsys, among many others.