Google gets the go-ahead for Nortel patents bid; RIM also interested

Google’s bid to buy $900m worth of Nortel patents and patent applications was approved on Monday. The planned sale required the approval of courts overseeing Nortel’s bankruptcy proceedings in Canada and the US. Under the terms of the auction, other parties may submit bids until June 13th, with the auction taking place on June 20th. Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Google’s bid, which forms a “stalking horse” arrangement allowing other companies to come in with higher offers, comes with a $25m “break up fee” in the event that another bidder is successful. According to court papers filed in the US Bankruptcy Court, the search giant is also guaranteed the repayment of up to $4m in expenses should it lose out in the auction. Under the proposed bidding rules, Google’s offer must be bettered by at least $29m to be successful; offers over and above that figure must come in $5m increments.

Blackberry manufacturer RIM has also expressed interest in acquiring the patents; the firm was prohibited from bidding for Nortel’s wireless business in 2009.

The patents in question include both granted and pending applications covering wireless, 4G/LTE, data networking, optical, voice, social networking and internet, among others. Nortel-owned technology is used in Blackberry, iPhone and Android devices. Google’s recent moves into the mobile and desktop operating systems space has seen it attract a number of patent-related challenges from the likes of Oracle. When news of the Nortel bid broke early in April, Google General Counsel Kent Walker said that the company hoped a successful bid would “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 suit against Google, claiming that the Android operating system infringes on patents it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems.

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