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Nortel sets stage for patent bidding war

Alex Scroxton

Citing a "significant level of interest" Nortel has today delayed the auction of 6,000 patents, its last significant remaining asset, to the end of the month, setting the stage for a potential bidding war.

The auction of patents covering technologies such as wireless, 4G, data networks, optical, voice, internet, service provider and semiconductors, was scheduled for Monday 20 June but will now take place on 27 June, the following week.

Google had already offered $900m (£560m) for Nortel's IP in a stalking horse bid, meaning that other interested parties would be able to offer more and Google would, if it wanted, be allowed to trump those bids.

Other suitors are known to include Apple and ZTE, as well as RIM, which is determined to keep the assets in Canadian hands. Several so-called patent trolls are also understood to have expressed an interest.

Any of these companies would have to bid at least $929m to cover break-up fees already agreed between Nortel and Google.

Google is seeking to buy the patent portfolio partly to drive future innovation around products such as Android, but also as a means to discourage litigation from other firms.


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