Leaked bids show how Apple-led ‘Rockstar’ beat Google to Nortel patents

“At the auction for Nortel Networks’ wireless patents this week, Google’s bids were mystifying, such as $1,902,160,540 and $2,614,972,128,” Nadia Damouni reports for Reuters.

“Math whizzes might recognize these numbers as Brun’s constant and Meissel-Mertens constant, but it puzzled many of the people involved in the auction, according to three people with direct knowledge of the situation on Friday,” Damouni reports. “‘It became clear that they were bidding with the distance between the earth and the sun. One was the sum of a famous mathematical constant, and then when it got to $3 billion, they bid pi,’ [one of] the source[s] said, adding the bid was $3.14159 billion. ‘Either they were supremely confident or they were bored.'”

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Damouni reports, “It was not clear what strategy Google (GOOG.O) was employing, whether it wanted to confuse rival bidders, intimidate them, or simply express the irreverence that is part and parcel of its corporate persona. Whatever its reasons, Google’s shenanigans did not work.”

“A group of six companies — Apple, Microsoft, RIM, EMC, Ericsson and Sony — won the auction of 6,000 Nortel patents and patent applications with a $4.5 billion bid,” Damouni reports. “By Wednesday… the field narrowed to two — the Apple consortium called ‘Rockstar,’ and the Google bidding vehicle named ‘Ranger,’ the sources said… Google declined to comment for this article, but called the auction results ‘disappointing.'”

Many more details in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple consortium wins $4.5 billion Nortel patent trove auction; Google, Intel lose bidding battle – July 1, 2011
Intel gets antitrust approval to bid on Nortel patents – June 24, 2011
Apple gets U.S. antitrust approval to bid for Nortel patent trove – June 23, 2011
Apple, Intel among bidders for Nortel patent trove – June 17, 2011
Nortel delays patent auction one week citing significant interest – June 16, 2011
RIM looks to outbid Apple, Google, and Nokia for Nortel’s patent treasure trove – April 18, 2011
Google bids $900 million for 6,000 Nortel telecom patents in quest to boost patent portfolio – April 4, 2011
Apple reportedly bidding for Nortel patent portfolio – December 13, 2010


  1. Google pretended they were just having fun by playing number games but they really were staking a lot in the bid win. There are no short cuts this time for intellectual property for google. Their position just weakened significantly by this loss.

  2. Google has shown that it can’t be trusted to respect other peoples intellectual property, ( and they showed that they are back stabbers ) so why would they expect people to trust them with their personal information. THEY HAVE SHOWN THEY HAVE NO ETHICS.

    1. when google went public i believe they stated they were trying to raise about e billion dollars. remember the billboard they erected in several cities with a web site based on a prime number in the digits of e? they have always been like this.

  3. This leaves Google with almost no significant IP of their own to defend Android against a tidal wave of lawsuits, and their behavior has inspired an unwillingness to compromise by the enemies they have made, including Apple, Oracle, and Microsoft.

    1. What would happen if Google bought RIM?

      Would they then get access to those patents?

      Are the patents locked down with a caveat if such a thing was to happen?

      How much money did the six “rockstar” consortium players contribute individually?

      How is “rockstar” going to divvy up the patents?

      Is it by the amount expended by each member or is it an open pool for all?

      Why did the chicken cross the road? My bad.

      When will we get to see further details on these patents?

  4. I’d say that Google didn’t have the courage of their convictions. Surely they could have outbid all comers if their heart had really been in it.

    1. Nonsense. The Bell system was a GOVERNMENT create monopoly. In a free market monopolies are impossible, and should one occur, unsustainable. The USA has never been a completely free market, in part because government gives certain companies special rights. Namely, a monopoly on certain services, such as local, regional and national telephone service, in the case of “Ma Bell”.

      Apple has no government granted monopoly. Apple competes in markets with multiple other players. Apple’s success comes completely from their ability to better satisfy the needs of their customers.

      Ma Bell didn’t care because they didn’t have to. Apple’s existence depends on caring more than anyone else, and they do.

      1. Bell was a federally (FCC) regulated monopoly in 1934 and was limited decades later by the FCC.

        Then the government dissolved what was left of the telephone monopoly in the 1980’s.

    1. That would make sense if only a single winner bid $4.5 billion. But sorry, the costs are being spread out over the consortium so that no single member has to pay a sum that is a burden.

      Google got outfoxed. They tried to go it alone, but Apple anticipated their arrogance and put together a platoon of companies that are largely invested in seeing Android lose.

      1. when a terrorist tries to blow up something with a bomb in his shoes, whether he “succeeds” or not, it bids up the price of security for everyone. so, yes, maybe jon1234 does work for dhs or at least understands what is going on.

    2. To Apple the price it has to pay is just loose change or a rounding error. For another companies, it’s a very expensive proposition. They may likely have to borrow money from Wall Street or issue junk bonds.

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