Google's current bid for Nortel's patent portfolio, which is being sold off as part of Nortel's bankruptcy auction, amounts to USD 900 million. This is marked by Nortel as the 'stalking-horse bid', meaning it's the starting point for everybody else with interest in this particular portfolio. The portfolio includes about 6000 patents and patent applications for wired, wireless, and digital communication technologies.
"The tech world has recently seen an explosion in patent litigation, often involving low-quality software patents, which threatens to stifle innovation," writes Kent Walker, senior vice president & general counsel at Google, "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."
Google's looking at you, Microsoft and Apple, with the latter. And rightfully so.
"The patent system should reward those who create the most useful innovations for society, not those who stake bogus claims or file dubious lawsuits," Walker continues, "It's for these reasons that Google has long argued in favor of real patent reform, which we believe will benefit users and the US economy as a whole."
A patent reform bill has been stuck in the US Senate for a while, and in the meantime, the best a company can do to defend itself against the kind of competition-stiffling lawsuits from Apple and Microsoft or other forms of patent trolling is to build a formidable defensive patent portfolio of your own. Google is trying to do just that.
Other companies can also bid on the portfolio, so the deal isn't done just yet - however, Google's message is clear. "If successful, we hope this portfolio will not only create a disincentive for others to sue Google, but also help us, our partners and the open source community - which is integrally involved in projects like Android and Chrome - continue to innovate. In the absence of meaningful reform, we believe it's the best long-term solution for Google, our users and our partners," Walker concludes.