back to article Apple and Microsoft backed Rockstar flogs zombie Nortel patents for $900m

Rockstar Consortium, the trolling outfit that snapped up the patent portfolio of bankrupt telecoms firm Nortel, has agreed to sell the bulk of that technology to a company that claims to be dedicated to reducing patent litigation. RPX Clearinghouse will buy the 4,000 zombie Nortel patents from the consortium for $900m, Reuters …

  1. J. R. Hartley

    What nonsense

    This type of shit is exactly why the patents system in America needs reformed.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: What nonsense

      I'd love to see a reasonable explanation why you call this "this type of shit".

      A company that went bankrupt (Nortel) held all these patents. They sold them to the highest bidder. The highest bidder sells some of them to another bidder. The patents have always been there, license fees have always been paid for them, the only thing that changes is the owner. So what exactly are you complaining about?

      1. J. R. Hartley

        Re: What nonsense

        ^^ that type of shit.

  2. Mitoo Bobsworth

    Will you be my FRAND?

    Sure... now bend over & grab your ankles.

  3. JaitcH

    Pity the Canadian taxpayers didn't get the money as they ...

    were the ones who gave Nortel millions in grants to support early cell development.

    Hopefully, if similar grants are made, the Canadian government will a be part owner of the patents so it will never happen again.

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "So what exactly are you complaining about?"

    It's highly likely that the actual inventors got some cash payment or bonus when they filed the patents; but nothing when Nortel went broke, nothing when Nortel sold the patents to Rockstar, nothing from the license fees paid to Rockstar, nothing when Rockstar sold some patents to patent trolls, nothing from the patent trolls license fees, nothing from the sale to RPX and nothing from the license fees paid to RPX. I can see the argument here that firms that hold patents but perform no R&D of their own are just a drain on the economy and invention process.

    On the other hand, without companies being able to buy, sell, and resell these patents (so presumably they'd kind of evaporate when the company goes insolvent), it'd be FAR too easy to abuse THAT system by just forcing smaller companies (that perform R&D) into insolvency in order to use their patents for free. (I say "insolvency" rather than "bankruptcy" since a company might pull out of bankruptcy...)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Simple middle ground solution: all patents from insolvent companies are handed over to a special holding company that immediately makes them available on a FRAND basis to all comers. The revenue is then devoted (after operating costs) to a pool of money used for grants given to researchers or those looking to attend higher education. No corporate shenanigans allowed, but no abuse allowed either. It strongly encourages everyone to license via FRAND.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Simple middle ground solution: [blah blah blah usual rubbish].

        IP is an asset. Encumber that asset, and you reduce its exchange value. Reduce its exchange value, and you make it infungible and unavailable as leverage to secure financing. That makes it harder for small inventors to get a return on their investment or realize their idea in a product, and reduces the return for R&D in larger organizations.

        Making IP a fungible asset is critical to ensuring decent returns for R&D. It's often a large portion of the remaining assets when a firm goes bankrupt, and so a large portion of returning some money to creditors (including employees and suppliers and the like). It means securing a patent is a boost to the balance sheet. It justifies technology transfer from such non-troll NPEs as universities, and for major research universities that's a substantial source of income, and so both necessary for maintaining that level of research and a significant economic resource in the region.

        All of the arguments against selling patents founder on the simple fact that being able to sell them is the better part of their value. Stop the sale of patents and you suppress innovation.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Bullshit of the highest order. Perhaps the greatest example is that high quality software is being produced in countries where you cannot get patents on software.

          Innovation will occur regardless. All you're bitching about is the whether or not those already rich can get richer by trying to play for sympathy on the "small inventor in his basement" card. Which is a species that is already nearly extinct in IP-loving 'murica as it is.

          Trick down only works when it's trickling down your pants. Otherwise it's just another Randian fallacy.

  5. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Land of the free

    Can't just make these patents public, gotta have a company that exists just to collect the patent tax. This served well to reduce competition. Land of the free eschews the free market yet again.

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