Rivals team to outbid Google for Nortel IP

Dylan Bushell-Embling
04 Jul 2011

In a rare moment of co-operation, Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericsson, EMC and Sony teamed up last week to defeat Google's bid for Nortel's patent portfolio.

The companies formed an impromptu consortium to place the winning $4.5 billion bid for all of Nortel's remaining patents and applications, Nortel announced on Friday.

The companies outbid Google, which had placed the $900 million stalking horse bid for the 6,000 or so patents.

The portfolio includes wireless, LTE, optical, voice, internet and semiconductor patents.

The unexpectedly high selling price could indicate that smartphone rivals Apple, Microsoft and RIM were willing to co-operate and spend big to prevent Google from cementing Android's leadership in the market.

The consortium will now split up the patents between them once the sale closes, which subject to Canadian and US court approval will take place in the third quarter.

Google bid in unusual increments, including the value of pi, in what may have been an attempt to confuse rival participants, Reutersreports.

But as more companies dropped out of bidding alone and then chose to join the consortium - which was formed when Apple and Ericsson partnered for the bid - Google bowed out. The search giant was reportedly unwilling to pay more than $4 billion.

Nortel has now sold off the last of its significant assets. The Canadian company declared bankruptcyin 2009, and since auctioned off its various businesses, including selling its wireless assets and some patents to Ericsson for $1.13 billion.

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