Sale of Telco Patents May Change Tech Power Balance

Bidding Frenzy Likely for Nortel Rights

Reuters broke a story that bids for the remaining Nortel Networks patents worth up to $1 billion are due within weeks.

Sources close to IP Insider have said that a veritable bidding frenzy among technology companies such as Apple and Google has developed: “They’re selling off the prized LTE/wireless cluster,” said a banker familiar with the negotiations. “Bids are due before December 20th and $300 – $350 MM is expected from this alone.”

“The rare intellectual-property portfolio sale,” writes Reuters’ Alastair Sharp and Nadia Damouni, “is part of bankrupt Nortel’s auction of assets, most of which have already been sold.

“Sources expect the sale to draw wireless telecom newcomers Apple and Google, which want to build up patent war chests as they fight incumbents such as Nokia, which want to protect their patent positions, in the courts.

“‘There has been one round of bidding on those patents, this has been completed,” said one source, who declined to be identified because the process is private. ‘And what Nortel has done is divide the patents up into different lots covering different kinds of technologies.’

“Nortel, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009, holds more than 4,000 patents that analysts say are worth more than $1 billion in total. Two sources with knowledge of the auction process say they have been grouped into six “buckets” of related technologies and that final bids are due within weeks.

“Nortel declined comment, saying the process is confidential.”

Swedish network equipment maker Ericsson bought most of Nortel’s North American wireless operations, which includes its multi-service switch business.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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