Ericsson’s Nortel bid approved; but what of the LTE patents?

What will happen to Nortel's LTE patents?

As it prepares to bow out of the telecoms infrastructure business, Canadian firm Nortel said on Tuesday that Ericsson’s $1.13bn bid for its LTE and CDMA assets has been approved.

Nortel obtained orders from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approving the sale agreement with the Swedish kit vendor.

The deal includes all of Nortel’s CDMA business and Nortel’s LTE Access assets, although it is understood that this does not include the firm’s LTE patent portfolio.

In fact, it’s been suggested that Research In Motion’s (RIM) protest over the auction was intended to draw the attention of Canada’s government to the Nortel LTE patents, which are said to include “world leading technology”.

Prior to the auction, Jim Balsillie, RIM’s co-chief executive officer said that the firm would be prepared to pay in the range of $1.1bn for the CDMA and LTE businesses and “certain other Nortel assets”.

“RIM is extremely disappointed that Nortel’s world leading technology, the development of which has been funded in part by Canadian taxpayers, seems destined to leave Canada and that Canada’s own Export Development Corporation is preparing to help by lending $300 million to another bidder…RIM has found itself blocked at every turn,” said Balsillie.

Presumably that $300m fund, which was earmarked for Nokia Siemens Networks, is still available, and if Canada’s attention is now on Nortel’s LTE patents, perhaps RIM will get some help in making a bid for the property.

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