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Nortel Patents Go To Apple, Microsoft, Sony and Others 121

tcr writes "A consortium that includes Apple, Microsoft, RIM and Sony has been successful in its bid for the Nortel patent portfolio. The winning bid was $4.5 billion. TechCrunch predicts this could result in a slew of lawsuits directed at Android, but also suggests that the deal will likely receive scrutiny from the U.S. courts."
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Nortel Patents Go To Apple, Microsoft, Sony and Others

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  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday July 01, 2011 @10:50AM (#36633550) Journal

    A little under a decade ago (when our little-fish startup had been eaten by a middle-sized fish started-up-and-running but that hadn't yet been eaten by the giant conglomerate) Nortel sued our company on something I'd been co-architect on.

    Though we'd done things differently (I ended up with seven patents for my inventions) I think the settlement still involved us paying them a few megabux to even out the patent licensing swap.

    We all agreed that this proved Nortel was on the rocks. Switching from innovation to patent trolling, we figured, showed they were in deep trouble and trying to squeeze money out of every asset. As it turned out we were right.

    Does anybody know if such cross-licensing agreements survive a bankruptcy and a patent portfolio sale? (I suspect not, since they're contracts with a bankrupt corp.)

    Either way this should put the purchasers in a very good position to fend off attacks by telecoms and their equipment vendors against internet-based communication services. And if the agreements die with the previous owner it could let the buyers go on the offensive as well.

    So I see this mainly as part of the generational struggle between the "Bell Head" telecoms and the "Packet Head" internet network companies, more than setting up a fight between Android and iPhone / Windows Phone / whatever.

  • Non-transferable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yarnosh ( 2055818 ) on Friday July 01, 2011 @11:07AM (#36633740)

    I just want to express my opinion that patents should not be transferable. It is bad enough that corporations wield patents to hinder progress, maintain monopolies, and destroy smaller competitors. Patents are meant to protect the people who innovate. You should not be able to buy and sell this protection. If you didn't invent it, you shouldn't be able to enforce a patent on it even if you paid $4.5 billion for that "right." Also, If someone patents something, they have to do something with it themselves or they forfeit their patent. You can't just sit on an idea and wait for someone else to infringe on it so you can sue them. That's just wrong.

    Off topic, but I just had to say it.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"