In an astonishing purchasing event today Google has put out a bid to purchase Nortel’s 6,000 patents, that includes a variety of wireless, 4G, semiconductor and data networking IP patents.

The Canadian-based telecommunications network Nortel was once on the top of the world with its peak worth of $398 billion, which happened during the dot-com explosion. But, sadly since the time the stocks crashed and they crashed hard, dropping the company to less than $5 billion in 2002. Being unable to recover Nortel had to file for bankruptcy in 2009 and agree to liquidate all assets that next year.

Since the time of bankruptcy Nortel has been on a selling spree to try to raise enough money to pay back creditors. Now it has not choice but to sell off one of the most valued things in its possession, its massive patent portfolio. Century’s worth of patenting that span “wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patent portfolios.” All of this being sold from the company that once held so much. That’s why Google is entering the picture to take these patents for $900 million in cold hard cash.

There is only one tiny little problem, according to federal law, Google can’t purchase the patents. Bankruptcy court has to give other bidders a chance to up bid Google with their offers. Google is trying to make it clear that they are attempting to acquire Nortel’s portfolio as a defensive measure against patent litigation:

But as things stand today, one of a company’s best defenses against this kind of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio, as this helps maintain your freedom to develop new products and services. Google is a relatively young company, and although we have a growing number of patents, many of our competitors have larger portfolios given their longer histories.

Google is trying to stop what happened to itself just last year when Oracle sued Google for IP infringement in relation to Android’s use of Java, which Oracle now owns thanks to their acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

That current lawsuit is still pending and if they are able to acquire this array of telecommunications patents, Google could get leverage in the Oracle lawsuit. This is all about protecting Google, with companies like IBM and Microsoft being granted 3,000 to 5,000 patents a year, Google is trying to play catch-up and most of all protect themselves in further lawsuits.

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