According to a new report by Bloomberg this week, Research in Motion may be about to out-bid Google’s $900M attempt to secure the treasure trove that is Nortel’s patent archive. Rumors that the patent archive was up for sale first surfaced towards the end of December last year, when Apple was itself thought to be eying up the library.
A few days after the first report surfaced, a further report claimed that Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and EMC were all biding for the patent archive after Nortel had reportedly been acquired by Attachmate. The bid from the companies was thought to be close to $450M and was said to include 882 patents from Nortel’s “thousands-strong” patent trove.
However, earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google had out-bid Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and EMC with a $900M offer to Nortel for the entire library of patents.
“The tech world has recently seen an explosion in patent litigation, often involving low-quality software patents, which threatens to stifle innovation,” said Google general counsel Kent Walker. “Some of these lawsuits have been filed by people or companies that have never actually created anything; others are motivated by a desire to block competing products or profit from the success of a rival’s new technology.”
Quoted as saying the collection is considered a “national treasure”, RIM’s co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis, failed to comment on whether RIM may be set to out-bid Google’s 900M offer.
“A group of technology companies, including mobile-phone makers, may also bid on the patents to stop Google,” the report noted two people familiar with the matter as saying, adding that RIM has reportedly considered joining the group. Given Google’s size, the smaller handset makers would need to pool their money in order to outbid the search giant.
Patent attorney David Mixon said in an interview that he expects bidding for the patents to reach more than $1 billion. “There is great potential to turn that patent portfolio around and go after smaller competitors especially,” he said.