Apple-led group buys Nortel patents for $4.5 bn

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A consortium of Apple, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM), Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony and EMC has bought 6,000 patents of the defunct Nortel for a whopping $4.5 billion.

The patents and patent applications, which were expected to fetch up to $1.5 billion, finally went for $4.5 billion after afierce bidding war which began on Monday.

It is the biggest sale of technology patents in history.

The bidding process for 6,000 patents and patent applications began in April, with Google offering a $900-million stalking horse bid. If no other player had entered the bidding process, auction would have ended on June 20.

But because of the entry of other bidders, including Apple, Intel and Ericsson, Nortel delayed the auction by a week. A US bankruptcy court in Delaware will now review the sale July 11.

The portfolio of 6,000 patents and patent applications relating to cutting-edge, next-generation wireless technology was its last remaining asset to go on the auction block.

The 129-year-old Canadian telecom giant, which declared bankruptcy in the US and Canada in 2009 after its accumulated problems, has been selling its various businesses to pay off debtors.

The sale of its patents marks the end of the once mighty global telecom giant which at its peak commanded a market value of over $250 billion and 90,000 employees around the world.

Since Nortel-patented technology is used in RIM's BlackBerry, Apple's iPhone and Google Android smart phones, the buyer of these patents will gain the rights to license this technology to secure royalties and market influence in the multi-trillion-dollar technology field.

"The sale includes more than 6,000 patents and patent applications spanning wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patents. The extensive patent portfolio touches nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well, including internet search and social networking," said Nortel.

"Following a very robust auction, we are pleased at the outcome of the auction of this extensive patent portfolio," said Nortel chief strategy officer George Riedel.

"The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world," he said.

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