After forming a strange alliance to score control of Nortel Networks’ patents, Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, and Ericsson can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Now that a Department of Justice waiting period has finally expired, the members of the so-called Rockstar Consortium can finally finish up their $4.5 billion acquisition of the one-time telecom giant’s hefty patent portfolio.
The Department of Justice gave the Consortium their blessing this past February, noting that the expensive transaction was “not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics.” Now that the waiting period is over and done with, the members of the Consortium can effectively go to town on the over 4,000 wireless and networking patents that were locked away in Nortel Networks’ treasure chest. According to Rockstar CEO John Veschi, the companies in question will begin to license those newfound patents shortly, though Rockstar representatives couldn’t be reached for further comment.
“We are pleased to emerge from this review process, and are looking forward to working with technology related companies to provide them with access to Rockstar’s technology,” he said in a release. In short, Rockstar is itching to license their patents, and strike deals with companies that are “harnessing its intellectual property.” As Robin Wauters notes on The Next Web, those sound like fighting words, and that’s exactly what another one-time Nortel bidder was concerned about.
Google was keen to get their hands on Nortel’s sizable patent bundle after the telecom firm filed for bankruptcy, as evidenced by the $900 million bid they placed last April. For a while, it seemed like a matter of course that Google would easily win the auction, though the prize was ultimately claimed by the Rockstars listed above. Not that I can blame them — $4.5 billion is nothing to sneeze at when you’re going bankrupt and dealing with $4.5 billion in debt.
The official Google reaction at the time was tepid at best — SVP and Google General Counsel Kent Walker issued a release that said the outcome was “disappointing for anyone who believes that open innovation benefits users and promotes creativity and competition.” Sure, it may have been lacking in righteous ire, but the point still stands. Google was worried that putting these many patents into the hands of a group that consists of major market players like Apple and Microsoft could potentially put the kibosh on companies trying to innovate.
Google was quick to move on though, and these days they’re patiently waiting for their own patent-related Hail Mary to pass regulatory muster. Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission have given their (somewhat hesitant) approval to the $12.5 billion Motorola buyout, and now the search giant is waiting for final approval from China, Israel, and Taiwan before the deal can officially come to a close.