Google Named Lead Bidder For 6,000 Nortel Patents


The portfolio in question includes about 6,000 patents and applications covering everything from wireless and 4G technology to data networking, optical, voice and semiconductors.

Nortel's agreement with Google finishes off what Nortel described as a confidential, multi-round bidding process. Apple and Research In Motion were among companies said to have bid, and the stalking horse asset process will still allow other qualified companies to attempt to top Google's bid.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity to acquire one of the most extensive and compelling patent portfolios to ever come on the market," said George Riedel, chief strategy officer and president of business units, Nortel, in a statement. "We look forward to what we hope will be a robust auction, following the requisite court approvals, currently expected to be held in June 2011."

Google, in a Monday blog post, said one goal of the bid is to bulk up its own patent portfolio as a way to head off patent litigation.

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"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," wrote Kent Walker, senior vice president & general counsel, Google. "In the absence of meaningful reform, we believe it's the best long-term solution for Google, our users and our partners."

According to Nortel, it will file the stalking horse asset sale agreement in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Nortel's ongoing denouement began with a bankruptcy filing in 2009, followed by a piece-by-piece sell-off of many of its business units. Some of its biggest channel-facing business went to former competitors, including Avaya's acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business unit, and Ciena's pickup of Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks business.