back to article Google bids $900m for Android and Chrome patent shield

Google has bid $900m for Nortel's patent portfolio, saying it hopes to use the portfolio to deter lawsuits against not only Google but also partners and open-source developers working on projects such as Android and Chrome. On Monday, Nortel announced that it has entered a "stalking horse asset sale agreement" with Google, …


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  1. Arctic fox


    "RPX is an operation that seeks to help its clients reduce their patent litigation, and it does so by building a patent portfolio of its own and allowing clients to license the portfolio for an annual fee. "

    I.E. They are cuddly patent trolls that will allow you to sign an annual feeding agreement.

  2. Victor Ludorum
    Jobs Horns

    Hmm, that's a good opening bid

    but I seem to remember a certain fruit-based tech company has a fairly decent cash pile sitting there doing nothing... Maybe they could stick the patents on ebay.

    Or maybe Tesco could help shift some of them on a BOGOF deal...

    1. Anton Ivanov

      Good idea

      Not a bad idea. Some of them are BOGOF quality in the first place. Nortel bid on the wrong horse in the tech race more than once so a lot of these relate to tech which has long been abandoned.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up, up and away!

    With Google bidding, there's probably no limit to how high the price will go. They should pool resources with Atcatel-Lucent and Furukawa and just go ahead and bid $3 billion.

  4. OSC

    And the USPTO are pushing for harmonisation... can't wait

    Summer of Code - tick

    WebM - tick

    Contributions to Linux kernel - tick

    Chrome, Google Maps google groups, blogspot -tick

    Google, Gmail, streetview - if you don't like sharing behavioural data no one is forcing you

    Youtube - tick

    And no doubt if they get the Nortel patents they'll add them to OIN

    Google - a low bullshit organisation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I have no idea what yourpost is about. At all.

  5. Graham Marsden

    "Google has long been an advocate of patent law reform...

    "...but it has come to realize that before such reform occurs, it needs a hefty portfolio for defensive purposes"

    Of course. Gods forbid that such patents should fall into the wrong hands (defined as "any other hands but ours...")

    1. Sam Liddicott

      of course...

      If google argue for patent reform while in the position of being sued for patent infringement it is rather like the sheep asking the wolves to re-count the vote that it should be eaten. They will have no credibility or authority.

      Google's argument will have no weight until google as some weight in that same arena - i.e. it is a wolf - or as we may hope, a sheep in wolve's clothing - or with a wolfs jawbone as a weapon...

    2. James Hughes 1


      Isn't that obvious? If they fall in to anyone's hand but 'ours' we might end up paying more than the patents cost. Pretty obvious move when put in those terms.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Thumb Down

        @of course... and Er...

        "Google's argument will have no weight until google as some weight in that same arena - i.e. it is a wolf - or as we may hope, a sheep in wolve's clothing - or with a wolfs jawbone as a weapon..."

        "If they fall in to anyone's hand but 'ours' we might end up paying more than the patents cost."

        The current system of Patents and Licensing in the US is akin to the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction in nuclear war! Big Company A amasses lots of Patents, so does Big Company B, each agrees not to sue each other and, instead, swaps Patent licenses.

        The only problem being that it only works for those Big Companies, meanwhile everyone else is shut out or ends up being forced to pay and pay and pay in order to be able to compete in the marketplace with the "big boys".

        Advocating Patent Reform whilst, at the same time, amassing big chunks of IP sounds more than a little hypocritical.

        1. Ammaross Danan


          "The only problem being that it only works for those Big Companies, meanwhile everyone else is shut out or ends up being forced to pay and pay and pay in order to be able to compete in the marketplace with the "big boys"."

          Fortunately, for those little guys, they don't have to invest billions into R&D to come up with that base tech that they get to license.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Thumb Down


            ... those little guys come up with some great idea and then find that the Big Guys have trolled every single possible permutation of patent even (or especially) ones that are so bloody obvious that they should never have been granted a patent at all or which are clearly based on prior art, but the little guys can't afford to employ a big enough legal time to defeat the Big Guy's financial muscle, so the little guys have to fork out big chunks of money that should have gone into R&D to get a licence...

          2. Jean-Luc
            Thumb Down

            @Ammaross Danan

            Yup, the little guys should just be thankful that they can live the dream by licensing Amazon's One-Click-Purchase patent.

  6. FuzzyTheBear

    And you take Muller seriously ? LOL

    Florian Muller is an idiot that does little more than a 5 yo would do in a kindergarten report on their vacations.His credibility is 0 .He's not a reference The Register should consider. Totally off base.

  7. json

    Fast forward to 2021..

    ... and in another development Google sues upstart ExWhyZee Company for using its patent on the use of curly brackets in data exchange.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Nokia fail, Nortel success?

    Microsoft "bought" Nokia's commitment and a patent-partnership with 1bn, despite having an exhaustive set of patents itself.. Given that Google's willing to spend close to 1bn itself just for a patent portfolio, Microsoft got a pretty good deal (ok, no news there).

    Right now, Microsoft makes more money from HTC Android handsets than Google... Google might have a chance to make some money too now!

    However ... Dog be with them, if they actually really are trying to reform patents (and nowadays it has to be global reform, not just US reform).

  9. amanfromearth

    Google Schmoogle

    Given Google's cavalier attitude to the GPL, why don't they just continue like that and steal the patents?

  10. xj25vm

    Stick your title hear

    Who is Florian Muller and why is he so conveniently the expert du jour for every imaginable topic? On articles about Microsoft, he is the expert insider into what's happening with the next big thing out of Redmond. Now, all of a sudden, he is an open source and patent expert.

    Is he the equivalent imaginary friend for journalists in need of some substance to back their articles? Please, enlighten us, or stop quoting him as some sort of super-authority in every single field.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Protection Racket

    Yeah, patents help the small inventor make money from their innovation. So long as they have a billion dollars handy.

    Patents are a crock of shit.

  12. Magnus_Pym

    Monopoly money

    I can't help thinking that this patent portfolio crap get closer and closer to a protection racket every day. $900 million as an 'insurance' against the legal profession coming round and metaphorically burning your business down.

    $900 Million could go a long way to help a lot of people caught up in various disasters around the world. Instead it gets passed around like chips on a roulette table. What a world.

    1. Ru
      Thumb Down

      Re: Monopoly money

      Don't be so sanctimonious.

      Why not consider exactly how much wealth flows through your government. Hint: truly mindboggling amounts, of which billions are likely pissed up the wall thanks to waste, corruption and incompetence. 900 million dollars is a trifling sum by comparison, and that's even before looking at how much cash is plowed into, say, defence.

      It isn't the job of Google's shareholders to bail out the world, and even if it were they simply could not afford it.

      1. Magnus_Pym


        Firstly, don't judge me on who you think I am. I might live on my own on a tiny island for all you know.

        Secondly, saying one thing is bad doesn't make all other bad things go away.

        Thirdly, My point is that the US patent system is an arbitrary and artificial construct. The fact that almost entirely meaningless patents are worth millions of dollars is obscene. It's a house of cards. One swipe of a politicians pen and they all become worthless. The money given to Lawyers and quasi-legal institutions could be better spent on R&D, business startups, education funds, and any number of better projects.

  13. jonathan rowe
    Thumb Down

    Don't startup - you'll get sued

    Just shows how patents only raise the barrier to entry for new startups, get anywhere successful and you'll get sued.

    The sooner everyone (excluding patent hoarders) gets together to reform this nonsense, the better.

  14. The First Dave


    Funny, I though we had been told that Android was bullet-proof (patent wise) already?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Patents were invented to...

    let you make money from your original idea before the competition gets in on the act.

    Now given that Nortel has gone bankrupt, despite all their patents, can we presume that either they are simply very very bad at turning ideas into money, or their ideas (patents) aren't worth shit?

    Yet in the big game of marbles that is the US patent system, their patents are really worth about 1B$. Unbelievable.

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