By MG Siegler
When Google (GOOG) first made the “stalking-horse” bid on the Nortel (NTL) patent portfolio in early April, it was all but assumed that they would push hard and win the rights to the patents. They were hardly the only bidder — RIM (RIMM) and Apple (AAPL) were definitely involved — but still, after the DoJ quickly cleared Google to bid, it seemed to many (including many at Google) that they would prevail. Not so.
Instead, Nortel has announced this evening that a consortium has won the bidding at a cash price of $4.5 billion. So who is in this consortium? Apple, Microsoft (MSFT), RIM, Sony, and others — essentially, it’s everyone but Google, it seems.
This means that over 6,000 patents will now be in the hands of these winners. And that sort of sucks for Google because losing the bidding means that they still control less than 1,000 patents. And that in turn means lawsuits. As in, Google is going to keep getting sued because they are vulnerable. That's not good news for Google, but it’s the way it’s going to be. Well, provided the courts approve the bidding results.
The deal is still subject to review by the courts in the U.S. and Canada. And given the companies that “won”, it seems likely that a lengthy review will take place. The Microsoft and Apple winnings are likely to be the most scrutinized, as the two of them stand to gain the most from the auction results. Google has yet to give a statement on the matter, but you can bet they will lobby against the auction results.
Nortel hopes to close the process by Q3 2011. Good luck.