RUMOR: Apple gets outright ownership of Nortel’s LTE (4G) patents

“Nortel Networks, the bankrupt Canadian telecom company, came that much closer to disappearing completely [last week] with the cash sale of its portfolio of 6000 patents for $4.5 billion to a consortium of companies including Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony,” Bob Cringely writes for I, Cringely.

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“Here’s the consortium participation as I understand it… Apple put up $2 billion for outright ownership of Nortel’s Long Term Evolution (4G) patents as well as another package of patents supposedly intended to hobble Android,” Cringely writes.

Much more in the full article, including the rest of the parties’ participation breakdown {who gets what), here.

Related articles:
Google’s Android intellectual property headache looks set to become a migraine – July 5, 2011
Leaked bids show how Apple-led ‘Rockstar’ beat Google to Nortel patents – July 2, 2011
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. Interesting that Apple wanted Nortel’s LTE patents. I don’t see how those would, in and of themselves, force Google to kill Android, but it certainly could get Apple long-term royalties from every handset maker, OS developer, or mobile carrier.

    Apple initially had a deal with AT&T to collect a portion of each iPhone user’s monthly service fee, before the subsidized model came into play due to legal issues with the subscription model overseas. This may be Apple’s way around those problems; simply have the carriers pay Apple licensing fees for LTE technology as well as selling iPhones.

    1. Well, out of 6000 patents I’m sure there are many that are of little real interest to Apple. I AM curious to know which of the 6000 patents are really useful to Apple in defending iPhones and iOS.

  2. One thing I rarely see in the reporting is “Intel”. They backed out early and joined Google in the bidding, I think. So where does this position Intel with Apple and the others in the consortium?

    1. That’s easy. If someone acquired RIM they’d have access to all the IP (and the Canadian tax loss write-offs) that RIM has, assuming the contract with the consortium allows that (presumably, it would). So yes, if Google bought RIM they’d probably have said access.

      Now the real question is this: if Google were to buy RIM, would they have the right to license that IP to their hardware vendors? I don’t know the details, but if Apple owns the IP outright and the others just have the rights to use it, I would suspect that Google would not be able to pass those IP rights along to people like Motorola, HTC, etc. Then again, I don’t know the details so don’t take my word for it.

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