Demand Builds for Nortel Patents

Who Will Make Best Use of the IP?

A lot of people are interested in what bankrupt Nortel will do with its valuable patent portfolio. In fact, the company is in the process of soliciting bids from parties.

According to a recent article by Dow Jones reporter Stuart Weinberg, Nortel Solicits Bids for Patents, Deciding Whether to Sell, the price for the more than 4,000 patent portfolio could go as high at $1 billion.

The portfolio is said to include LTE or long-term evolution cellular rights which are key to industry standards.

Three questions: (1) Did Nortel seriously consider monetizing these valuable assets before it was forced file for bankruptcy?  (2) Must it liquidate them? (3) To whom will the portfolio be worth most?

A strategic user like (BlackBerry maker) Research in Motion, which is said to be interested, could make good use of many of the patents. So, too, can a more aggressive licensor like an NPE.  But no NPE to date has come up with that kind of capital. Intellectual Ventures and possibly Coller ipCapital could.

Alternatively, it  may make most sense to the current owners to retain the patents for licensing in the ongoing company. This may not be to the liking of hungry creditors, eager to cash out what they can.

The Nortel conundrum is an illustration of how far perspectives of proven IP have come.  Financial/IP advisors are Lazard and the Global IP Law Group. Both have their work cut out for them. I hope the are up for the challenge.

Photo: Financial Post

About Bruce Berman

Independent IP observer, adviser and author.


  1. Google: The First Lemming Into The Nortel Patent Canyon « Gametime IP - April 7, 2011

    […] And speaking of smart money, how is it I believe the Nortel portfolio is grossly overpriced? I have a theory on patents that is similar to a theory I heard from a talk-radio host about evaluating college recruits. Instead of ratings and statistics, he only looks at the schools that are making offers.  If there are several good schools making offers to a kid, he’s probably a good player. If there aren’t, then there’s something wrong with him. In the same way, all I need to know is who is bidding on this portfolio (and in this case, who isn’t).  The reported bidders from earlier in the year included Apple, Google, Ericsson, Nokia and RPX (although RPX’s bid was apparently on behalf of Apple).  Last year, Wi-LAN and Mosaid were said to be bidding, but there’s been no mention of them recently.  Coller Capital was rumored to be in the hunt, but I’ve been unable to find any confirmation of that, despite the recognition that they, along with Intellectual Ventures, are one of the few who could raise the kind of capital Nortel is seeking. […]


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