Apple reportedly bidding for Nortel patent portfolio

Apple Store“Final bids are due within weeks for blocks of patents owned by Canada’s once mighty telecom giant Nortel Networks, including some that could change the balance of power among mobile operators,” Alastair Sharp and Nadia Damouni report for Reuters.

“The rare intellectual-property portfolio sale is part of bankrupt Nortel’s auction of assets, most of which have already been sold,” Sharp and Damouni report. “Sources expect the sale to draw wireless telecom newcomers Apple and Google, which want to build up patent war chests as they fight incumbents such as Nokia, which want to protect their patent positions, in the courts.”

“Nortel, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009, holds more than 4,000 patents that analysts say are worth more than $1 billion in total,” Sharp and Damouni report. “Two sources with knowledge of the auction process say they have been grouped into six “buckets” of related technologies and that final bids are due within weeks.”

“The patents likely to draw the most attention relate to third- and fourth-generation wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution, with device-makers such as Research In Motion, Motorola, and Apple seen as likely bidders,” Sharp and Damouni report. “‘It is certainly a very significant stockpile of potent weaponry, and whoever lays their hands on it is going to gain significant advantage,’ said Alexander Poltorak, chief executive of General Patent Corp, which advises companies on intellectual property strategy and valuation but is not advising anyone involved in the Nortel patent auction.”

Full article here.

[Attribution: MacRumors. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]


  1. “It didn’t give Nortel a significant advantage…”

    That was due more to ridiculously inept upper management that led to major accounting issues. The bastards (different from the original screwups) are still pulling in millions in bonuses while axing employees and their pensions (which they mis-managed as well).

    Interestingly, this all started happening in the late 90s, when they started moving away from using Macs internally to WinPCs. Coincidence? Hmm…

  2. Whatever the reason for Nortel’s eventual demise my first mobile phone (analogue) was made by this company. It was teal blue/green in colour, reasonably small and lightweight and gave great reception here in the UK.

  3. It could be money well spent, paying for itself in terms of reduced litigation expenses and future royalty streams. Or not…I don’t know enough about the patent portfolios to do more than uselessly speculate (like most pundits!).

  4. Apple should also acquire Kodak for patents as well.

    Yep. Apple’s trying to fend off a potential lawsuit by Kodak against Apple’s use of the name “Retina.”

    And Apple wants to hop onto the igravy train now rounding the curve thanks to the inevitable comeback of 8mm movie film.

    Magic word: expect.

  5. @Ballmer’s left nut

    At least if RIM goes down, they’ll go down legitimately (i.e. outclassed and out-maneuvered by Apple in the consumer segment), rather than fucked up from within.

  6. ‘They’re just hyping the portfolio so they can get better bids’

    Doesn’t really matter.

    Apple will pay what they want to pay or someone – like RIM or Nokia – might get conned into paying more than they would have under normal conditions which uses up their working capital.

    It’s the same revenge-game that Ford played on GM many years ago which resulted in GM paying over the odds for Saab.

  7. Apple needs these patents to assist in battling Nokia & Motorola in court. Motorola & Nokia have a treasure trove of patents surrounding 2nd generation, 3rd generation & 4th generation wireless technology, whereas Apple either has none or close to none in terms of how the actual air interface functions…

    Nortel has numerous patents in this field & this would give Apple leverage to negotiate cross-licnsing deals to reduce their IPR costs.. and also give them leverage to settle some of these patent lawsuits… as Motorola & Nokia need the Nortel patents to make their products function as well.

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