The world’s leading internet and telecommunications companies are queuing up to bid for a chunk of mobile phone IP history as the failed Canadian telecommunications company, Nortel Networks, puts its patent portfolio up for sale.
In April, Google made a $900m bid to acquire Nortel’s patents as part of a move to bolster its defence against potential litigation in the ongoing mobile phone wars. According to reports, Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry, and US-based patent-buying firm, RPX, have both decided to join the party and while details of their bids have not been released, they may well top Google’s initial offer.
Nortel Networks was originally founded in 1895 and is credited with a series of world firsts in telecommunications infrastructure and mobile telephony. The company has acquired more than 6,000 patents, many of them filed during the inventive period of the 1990s. It is not surprising, therefore, that companies with a far shorter research and development history are prepared to pay a high price for this extensive portfolio, comprising patents relating to technologies in diverse areas like wireless, data networking, internet and semiconductors.
With the auction due to take place on 20 June, whichever company is successful in ultimately acquiring the patents could secure a significant competitor advantage and find it easier to fend off future patent infringement claims.
• Nick Wallin is a partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers LLP – a leading UK firm of patent and trademark experts. Wallin specialises in the electronics, computing and telecommunications sectors. firstname.lastname@example.org