Canada's Nortel Networks, once one of the largest telco titans on the planet, was also one of the world's greatest crash-and-burn stocks. Peaking at nearly $40 billion during the infamous dot-com boom, by 2002 the company was worth less than $5 billion and soon after filed for bankruptcy. Those who got out early made big bucks, but most crashed and burned right along with Nortel.
Still selling off assets to pay creditors, Nortel has put up for sale its portfolio of 6,000 patents, many in the telecom space, including wireless and 4G. And Google plans to buy the whole thing for nearly a billion dollars.
Google has entered into a stalking horse sale agreement with Nortel worth $900 million in cash. According to federal law, Google can’t purchase the patent portfolio outright; the bankruptcy court has to give other bidders a chance to submit their offers. But it does mean Google is in the driver’s seat to acquire Nortel’s patented technologies. The search giant makes it clear that it’s attempting to acquire Nortel’s portfolio as a defensive measure against patent litigation.
Quoth Google's blog:
But as things stand today, one of a company’s best defenses against this kind of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio, as this helps maintain your freedom to develop new products and services. Google is a relatively young company, and although we have a growing number of patents, many of our competitors have larger portfolios given their longer histories.
Mashable observes that Google has been sued on multiple occasions for patent infringement. Author Ben Parr adamantly affirms this is about defense against Oracle, which sued Google for IP infringement over Android's java use—a technology that Oracle owns thanks to its handy acquisition of Sun Microsystems.
In the tech space, once can never have too many patents.