Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

Summary: Microsoft, as reported earlier this week, was, indeed, part of a consortium bidding for 6,000 or so Nortel telecommunications patents being auctioned as part of Nortel's bankruptcy process. And that group ended outbidding Google for them.

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Microsoft, as reported earlier this week, was, indeed, part of a consortium bidding for 6,000 or so Nortel telecommunications patents being auctioned as part of Nortel's bankruptcy process. And that consortium -- which also included Apple, Ericsson, RIM, Sony and EMC -- outbid Google for them.

As was the case with Novell's patents, Microsoft kept its role in the Nortel bidding process a secret as long as it could. When I asked earlier in the week whether Microsoft was part of a group bidding on Nortel's patents, I was told Microsoft had no comment. Microsoft officials said earlier this year that they felt no need to bid on the patents because of a sweeping patent deal they had signed with Nortel, announced in 2007, that would hold regardless of who purchased the patents. The consortium is paying $4.5 billion in cash for the Nortel patents, of which Ericsson's contribution is $340 million, the Wall Street Journal said on June 30. A Reuters report earlier this year said Google was willing to pay $900 million for the Nortel patent portfolio.

Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and blogger, said he found it surprising Google didn't outbid everyone else, especially in light of its recent patent issues around Android.

"No major industry player is as needy in terms of patents as Google. There are already 45 patent infringement lawsuits surrounding Android and makers of Android-based devices have to pay royalties to dozens of right holders. Just this week Microsoft announced that three more Android device makers, in addition to HTC, are already paying royalties on Google's Android to Microsoft," he said.

Mueller acknowledged that merely by purchasing Nortel's patent portfolio, Google couldn't have solved all of Android's patent issues in one fell swoop.

However, Mueller said he believed that "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 anytime soon. It will have to continue to buy up smaller quantities of patents from failed startups and similar kinds of sellers. Those entities typically don't sell patents that read on a technology as essential as LTE [Long-Term Evolution communications standard]."

I've asked Microsoft for more information as to why it decided to bid on the Nortel patents. Was it simply to keep them out of Google's hands? No word back yet, but I'll update this post if and when I receive word.

Update: "Microsoft is not commenting," a spokesperson said.

Topics: Legal, Apple, Google, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

    Google was busy doing +1s and adding friends to circles and missed the bidding !! :D
    1773
    • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

      @1773 dats intersting! de seems to be quite busy with +1
      ilyaskazi
  • :/

    I think this is the death knell for Android :(

    I can see google abandoning android tbh, why would they maintain an OS then now has a potential for even more multi-billion dollar suits as well as cuts per device sold. If they were serious about Android they would have made sure they won this acution - no doubts, they didn't and now its a question of how many patent suits can they fight off and how much is the (as Microsoft describe it) "Undisclosed balance sheet liability" going to be now ??

    I can't understand how the likes of Microsoft were given clearance to bid on these patents, they basically now have a monopoly on the mobile patent market.

    And how in the name of Zeus is any small startup ever going to invent something without treading on a patent minefield ?? or indeed have the funds to pay a suit etc?

    Patent reform is needed NOW.....
    garyc2008
    • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

      @garyc2008 <br>You can't kill linux, it will only morph.
      Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @Return_of_the_jedi

        Actually, patents *can* kill Linux. Patents are about *ideas*, not *implementations* (that's copyright).

        For example, say (hypothetically) that some core aspect of the kernel involving memory management was discovered.

        It wouldn't be a matter of re-writing the memory routine, it would require *an entirely new approach*. And if the only approach was currently patented...

        You see? Personally I think software patents should be outlawed because mathematics is not patentable--and software is mathematics. Period.

        But until the law understands the illegality of software patents software patents stand. And *everyone* is at risk.
        wolf_z
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @wolf_z<br><br>You have it backwards. You cannot patent ideas. You can only patent implementations.<br><br>This is why software patents usually have the word "method" in the title. They are about the implementation.
        msalzberg
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @Return_of_the_jedi
        But then, Android isn't Linux...
        x I'm tc
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @wolf_z <br>SCO tried. Short memory, eh?<br><br>@jdakula<br>Go get any android device, open a terminal, type uname -a.<br>And report back.<br><br>Go to an Ubutnu box, open a termianl, type uname -a.<br>Report back.<br><br>Go to any Supercomputer open a termianl, type uname -a.<br>Report back.<br><br>If you don't know what Linux is. Look it up please.<br><br>PS. So all this time I've been running <a href="http://www.androidng.com/install-backtrack-5-linux-on-android-phone" target="_blank">Ubuntu</a> "Linux" Chrooted on my not Linux droid?<br><br>PSSS. It's running an ARM version of <a href="http://www.androidng.com/android-kernel-update-tool" target="_blank">LINUX</a>. And you hoping/wishing it's not, won't change any facts.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @msalzberg

        Hah! Tell that to Oracle, which failed to implement any of Java mobile patents either in house or through licensing for going on THIRTEEN YEARS! In theory, I agree, you're right. However, in experience with the law, it's important to print it out, bring a copy with you, and read it slowly so the lawyers can understand what it says. You can only hope that meaning will sink in.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @tkejlboom

        I haven't followed the Oracle issue, so I can't comment on that specifically.

        According to the USPTO, you don't have to implement your patent. You just have to show how your idea could be implemented. There's nothing about 'use or lose it.'
        msalzberg
      • Sco

        @ Return_of_the_jedi<br><br>The Sco case is irrelevant because Sco didn't actually own the Unix IP they were using to sue IBM and others. It was owned by Novell, and only licensed to Sco. If Sco had actually owned what they had claimed to own, who knows how the case might have turned out.
        WilErz
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @msalzberg

        'use it or lose it' applies only to trademark law and has no equivalent in patent or copyright.
        Major Plonquer
    • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

      @garyc2008
      Microsofts's former Anti trust over site was done for a specific reason, that is now over and regardless this would have made no difference to the DOJ, wether Apple,Google or Microsoft bought the patents .
      JAlva05
    • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

      @garyc2008
      You really think that Google will abandon a mobile platform that is selling on more devices than any other platform? If mobile is optional, why is Microsoft trying so desperately to get back into the market as a major player? If Google was going to ever abandon Android, a lot more water would have to flow down into the gulf before that happens.
      WebSiteManager
      • Hi

        @WebSiteManager

        Well currently story is Microsoft are looking to get $7.50-$12 per android device sold

        http://www.techsual.com/2011/05/htc-getting-charged-by-microsoft-per.html

        Of course there is also the ongoing Oracle suit (they are looking >$6 Bn from google)

        Nokia will be supplying exclusively Windows 7 Mobile

        What Im saying all this will tilt the playing field to suit Microsoft, and How much of this will Google withstand before it becomes a money losing exercise, prob diff figures but sounds close to others I've read

        http://aseidman.com/2010/05/65000-new-android-devices-ship-each-day-how-much-are-they-worth-to-google/

        Google makes $8.36 over the lifespan of an Android Phone, Microsoft want royalties of up to $12, Oracle want Royalties....so Android will prob end up more expensive then WP7.....Microsoft can prob give it away for next to nothing in order to gain traction. Then theres other jokers like lodsys etc....and as long as Goog have no patents to defend themselves they are a sitting duck...............

        2 Massive mistakes Google made were not making a deal with Sun (Or better buying them) and secondly not buying these Nortel patents.

        The day patents are reformed could not come soon enough.....they are now beyond a joke.

        The endgame is to destroy FOSS........
        garyc2008
    • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

      @garyc2008 [i]I can't understand how the likes of Microsoft were given clearance to bid on these patents, they basically now have a monopoly on the mobile patent market.[/i]
      How can they have a monopoly if it was a consortium that won the bidding?

      [i]And how in the name of Zeus is any small startup ever going to invent something without treading on a patent minefield ?? [/i]
      If they infringing on patents then would they actually be inventing anything?
      non-biased
      • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

        @non-biased
        The patents are ridiculous. Some companies have patents on ideas that stem from the days of the abacus. REALLY... Doing something in response to a data stream from something??!?!
        brant@...
    • RE: Microsoft, Apple part of consortium that wins Nortel patent bid

      @garyc2008
      Looks to me more the beginning of the end for property software. Apparently they can not compete on features and prices so they try competing with lawyers. Even Apple with a tradition of doing a so much better user interface job than MS, could not win from Android.

      But, dear costumers, that 4.5 billion is 4.5 billion less spend on development. It means so many opportunities lost to compete in the areas that matter.

      But no serious society will allow that this industry will be crippled in that way. If they use the bullying techniques apparently used by Lodsys & MS or not.
      bezoeker
    • This is the death knell for all things creative

      @garyc2008
      I guess you have to tape a couple of mil to the back of all your patent applications these days. That way the small start-ups can collect a few ridiculous patents too.
      brant@...
  • that's unacceptable

    two evil companies M$ and Apple can not be trusted with weapons of mass destruction. The DOJ should investigate their abuse!
    Linux Geek