Court approves Google's $900M bid for Nortel patents

Nortel Networks has obtained court approval to accept a $900 million bid from Google for the entirety of its remaining patent portfolio, it said Monday.

The former network equipment maker announced on April 4 that it plans to sell around 6,000 patents, either issued or applied for, in the field of wired and wireless digital communications.

Google's $900 million bid was the result of several confidential rounds of bidding involving other companies and consortiums. Apple and Nokia were rumored to be among the rival bidders.

The approval, from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, does not necessarily mean Google will walk off with the patent assets. It made a so-called "stalking horse" bid, effectively setting the minimum asking price in an auction for the assets scheduled to take place on June 20. Rival bidders will have to submit initial offers by June 20 in order to qualify.

Nortel has been slowly selling off its assets since filing for protection under U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in January 2009, following a failed attempt to restructure the company without court protection. That year, Ericsson paid just over $1 billion for the company's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) wireless division, while Avaya paid just under $1 billion for its enterprise networking business.

Since then, the sale items have become less tangible, with Nortel announcing in late March that it will sell Microsoft its stash of 666,624 IPv4 addresses, a commodity now in high demand as network operators around the world begin to run short.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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