Feeds

Google left out of $4.5bn Nortel patent deal

Android left nude as enemies shrug on extra IP armour

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Apple, Microsoft, RIM, EMC, Ericsson and Sony all chipped in to buy the patents, which cover critical 4G and wireless broadband technologies, leaving Google empty handed.

The companies announced the purchase last night, with RIM admitting it had thrown $770m in the pot and Ericsson pegging its contribution at $340m. The amounts contributed by the other parties aren't yet known but all will share in the ownership of the patents and, perhaps more importantly, the protection from litigation they offer.

Google had bid $900m for the portfolio, which is the last remnant of former telecommunications-giant Nortel – everything physical having been stripped down and sold off following the company going titsup in 2009.

The patents are certainly valuable, but these days the real value is in owning a bigger pile of patents than everyone else, as Google so eloquently put it when buying up the patent portfolio of failed phone manufacturer Mudo last month:

"One of a company's best defenses ... is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio, as this helps maintain your freedom to develop new products and services," the company said at the time.

But clearly the chocolate factory didn't consider it worth $4.5bn to protect Android and the Android ecosystem, which is under attack from various patent-holders, including Microsoft. Patent-watcher Florian Mueller concludes that this means Google isn't serious about Android, which seems a little harsh, but it does indicate a limit to the protection that Google is willing to provide.

The real danger is that patents like these fall into the hands of a company that needs no defence, such as Lodsy: a company that makes nothing (so needs no patents) so can sue claimed infringers of its patents with impunity. Most of the mobile (and IT) companies survive on the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) mechanism, it served us well during the Cold War but only works as long as everyone has a roughly equivalent portfolio and an interest in staying alive.

The consortium should keep everyone in business, but we'll have to wait and see if the members decide that the best form of defence is a significant offence. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.