Google offers $900m for Nortel patents portfolio

Nortel Networks is to continue its post-bankruptcy asset sell-off, announcing the sale of its remaining patent portfolio to Google. The search giant is said to have offered $900m in cash in a “stalking horse” arrangement that could yet see another bidder come in with a higher offer.

The patents in question are understood to include both granted and pending applications covering wireless, 4G/LTE, data networking, optical, voice, social networking and internet, among others.

As Google’s strategy sees it moving into the mobile and desktop operating systems space, it has attracted a number of patent-related legal challenges from the likes of Oracle. According to Google General Counsel Kent Walker, the company hopes that a successful bid will “create a disincentive for others to sue Google,” adding that: “As things stand today, one of a company’s best defences against this kind of litigation is to (ironically) have a formidable patent portfolio.” Last year, Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming that the Android operating system infringes on patents it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems.

Writing on Google’s official blog, Walker took aim at organisations who file lawsuits but have “never actually created anything; others are motivated by a desire to block competing products or profit from the success of a rival’s new technology.” Walker added that: “The patent system should reward those who create the most useful innovations for society, not those who stake bogus claims or file dubious lawsuits.”

Android has attracted several legal challenges in recent years, although these are often directed at Google partners rather than the search company itself. Apple filed a complaint against HTC for alleged infringements in its Android-based phones, while Microsoft has also claimed that any company using Android owes patent-related royalties to Redmond.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. In a statement made yesterday, the company said that its agreement with Google followed multiple rounds of bidding from “several interested companies” and was a starting point against which other interested parties could bid prior to an auction.

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