Feeds

Google left out of $4.5bn Nortel patent deal

Android left nude as enemies shrug on extra IP armour

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?