Apple part of $4.5 billion Nortel patent acquisition, Google not

According to Reuters, a consortium of tech companies, including Apple, BlackBerry maker RIM, Microsoft, EMC, Sony, and Ericsson have won the auction to acquire Nortel's mammoth $4.5 billion dollar mobile patent portfolio. How much of that will come from Apple is currently unknown, though RIM is on the line for $770 million and Ericsson, $340 million. The companies are expected to pool the patents and use them both to protect against patent lawsuits and, of course, launch lawsuits of their own.

Apple part of $4.5 billion Nortel patent acquisition

The patents cover "wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet and semiconductor technologies", with the LTE 4G patents expected to become extremely valuable as networks and devices are upgraded to that standard.

If you noticed one major mobile company conspicuous by their absence, you're not alone. Google appears not to have been part of the winning bid, which is perplexing since, as a new entrant in mobile, they have one of the weakest existing patent portfolios.

"Google lost an unprecedented opportunity to acquire a major bargaining chip that would strengthen it at the mobile industry's intellectual property negotiating table."

"I'm afraid it won't get a similar opportunity in quantitative and qualitative terms any time soon."

Android manufacturers are already paying Microsoft licensing fees for Android, and are being sued by Apple. Android developers are being sued by Lodsys and while Apple has filed to intervene in the iOS-related lawsuits, Google is still missing in action.

What that means going forward is hard to say, but manufacturer and developer confidence is part of the currency of any platform and it needs to be invested in and protected.


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple part of $4.5 billion Nortel patent acquisition, Google not


I am surprised Google did not do whatever it takes to win this auction. Whatever fans might say about Android vs iOS, where Google lags the most is in their patent arsenal. Google has an order of magnitude less patents than their rivals, in large part because they have never taken the view that patents, especially software patents, are a good and necessary thing. On the software front, I happen to agree with them, in principle, but, in practice, this is hopelessly naive.
Patents, even bullshit patents, will still get you dragged into court, and the first and often only best defense is to countersue. Google needed Nortel's portfolio as a deterrent far more than Apple, Microsoft, or RIM did. (SONY/Ericcson is not a significant enough Android player to protect Android's interests.) Worse, while even with Nortel's patents Google would be unlikely to have the firepower to attack others, you can bet that Apple/MS/RIM lawyers will be combing through these patents for offensive opportunities against Google.
It is a crappy game, but, unless Google has some far-reaching endgame to upend that entire system, they needed to play it, and they did not.

Something gets to me. Their bid was $900 million was it not? They were higher than RIM and Ericsson. So how did they not get included in this?
Did they decide to not wanna be a part of this? I'm lost. Clarity anyone?

Oh okay, makes more sense like that. I should've knew that, lmao.
But interesting that it also says Ericsson and Sony (not Sony Ericsson) are a part of what does that mean for Sony Ericsson?
Not to mention, it's a laugh in RIM and MS face, cause Apple is basically saying that those two aren't a threat enough, so they could join with them. As long as Google is out the way, there's no one else that could compare.

completely agree. apple obviously find google a massive threat that they will join with others just to stop google although apple will never admit that.

I won't say they find Google a "threat" per se. Im just saying they find MS and RIM to not be a problem that they will actively work with them. Basically stating that even if they help them obtain tools to stave off lawsuits, they still can't outdo Apple, lmao.

it just shows how big google have become and how big android have become that other manufactures get together just so google dont..i dont fear for google as am sure they have thought this through and if nortel patents was the only thing available to protect them am sure they would have bidded more than the consortium if it was necessary obviously they thought otherwise...

agree with the beta thing you said as google do test there feet in everything and whatevers popular then they put all there efforts in it and if its a fail lol just love at wave and buzz...but with the musical label thing they failed to negotiate because the music label wanted even more money to redownload music we have all ready brought and obviously google wanted it to be free for the customers and it should be in this case i believe google were you cant cant complain if its free but when google do something good they do it good and they are always trying new things. whether its a success or not at least they trying new things.

I was hionpg to actually speed up specific parts of my video so it was like [interesting part] FF past boring parts [interesting part] FF So on.. but with a little tweaking, experimenting, and maybe some logic I can overcome that.. Anyways thanks, the video will probably be the deal breaker for buying this app At the very least it will keep the videos quality instead of mangling it.