SAN FRANCISCO—Nortel Networks Corp. has accepted a $900 million "stalking horse" bid from Google Inc. to serve as a starting point in an auction for the bankrupt telecommunications equipment maker's 6,000 patents and patent applications, Nortel said Monday (April 4).
The agreement includes patents and patent applications spanning wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patent portfolios, Nortel (Toronto) said.
In a blog posting, Google (Mountain View, Calif.) said that if its bid is successful it hopes that the acquisition of Nortel's patent portfolio would discourage others from suing Google. The company said it also hopes it would help Google, its partners and the open source community continue to innovate.
Google said it has long argued for meaningful reform of the U.S. patent system to curtail an explosion in patent litigation. The company said Monday that, in the absence of meaningful form, it believes the acquisition of Nortel's patent portfolio is the best long-term solution for Googe, its users and partners.
In the absence of meaningful reform, we believe it's the best long-term solution for Google, our users and our partners.
The U.S. Congress continues to work toward patent reform. Last week, competing interests squared off in a hearing over details of a House of Representatives version of a patent reform bill. The Senate passed its own version of patent reform bill (S.23) in a 95-to-5 vote on March 8.
Nortel, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009, has already sold off much of its assets. The company's bankruptcy period was extended to run through June.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity to acquire one of the most extensive and compelling patent portfolios to ever come on the market," said George Riedel, Nortel's chief strategy officer and president of business units, in a statement. "We look forward to what we hope will be a robust auction, following the requisite court approvals, currently expected to be held in June 2011."
Nortel said it would file the stalking horse asset sale agreement with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware along with a motion seeking the establishment of bidding procedures for an auction that allows other qualified bidders to submit higher or otherwise better offers, as required under U.S. code. A similar motion for the approval of the bidding procedures will be filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Nortel said. Following completion of the bidding process, final approval of the U.S. and Canadian courts will be required, Nortel said.