THE LONG LIST of companies objecting to the sale of Nortel's patent portfolio now has Microsoft on it.
Microsoft joins HP, Motorola Mobility and Nokia among others in objecting to the sale of Nortel's vast patent portfolio. Microsoft claims it has a "worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license to all of Nortel's patents" and does not want Google to buy over 6,000 patents and patent applications because it fears that licensees will be shut out.
Google bid $900m for 6,000 Nortel patents and patent applications and it is likely that other technology firms, or to put it bluntly, Microsoft's rivals, will mount similar bids. The point of contention is that Google, if it gets its hands on the patents, could terminate existing licensing agreements with firms such as Microsoft.
What Microsoft wants is a rule stipulating that the licensing agreements that are currently in place "must remain enforceable against the purchasers of the transferred patents". So to be fair to Microsoft, it isn't saying that Google or any other firm can't own the patents, but it wants to make sure it can continue licensing those patents rather than be shut out by the eventual patent holder.
The auction of Nortel's patents is due to take place later this month and is likely to raise billions. Nortel was a major networking research and development firm and has thousands of valuable patents.
To understand just how valuable Nortel's patents are, you need to realise that companies are not just fighting over the highest bid, but access to patents even if they don't win the auction. With assets like those, it makes you wonder just how bad things must have been for Nortel to end up in bankruptcy. µ
Another fine mesh
But, er, it'll be available in pink
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