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DOJ approves Google bid for Nortel patents, still in talks with Apple

post #1 of 21
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The U.S. Department of Justice has concluded an antitrust investigation into Google's bid for a collection of wireless-related patents from Nortel and has approved the bid, while talks with Apple and Research in Motion over their potential bids remain ongoing.

Sources familiar with the DOJ investigation told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that Google has been given the go-ahead on its $900 million starting bid in an auction of over 6,000 patents from Canadian telecommunications-equipment maker Nortel.

Earlier this month, the Journal reported that the DOJ hadn't found any "major competitive" issues with Google and was actually more concerned about Apple. Sources said Apple and RIM have been in talks with the Justice Department, but gave no indication on how the talks were proceeding.

RIM is believed to be preparing to bid, as co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has called Nortel's LTE patents a "national treasure." Sources have also suggested that Apple is expected to bid on the patents. The DOJ is reportedly worried about Apple or RIM winning the auction because both companies have a reputation for being aggressive with the intellectual property.

The auction is set to take place on June 20, with Google's "stalking horse" bid to serve as the opening amount. The patent trove contains key components of the fourth-generation Long Term Evolution wireless technology.

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 general counsel Kent Walker said in April. So after a lot of thought, weve decided to bid for Nortels patent portfolio in the companys bankruptcy auction."

On Monday, Microsoft, AT&T and Verizon filed objections to the sale, claiming it would affect essential technologies and provide the winner with an unfair advantage over its competitors, the report noted. HP and Nokia have also filed objections.

Legal experts have compared the patents to an arsenal of nuclear weapons. The auction's winner "will have a very important stockpile of weaponry to countersue, said Alexander Poltorak, chief executive officer of General Patent Corp., which is not involved in the case. "That will keep a lot of potential aggressors at bay."

Tuesday saw the wrapping up of a high-profile legal dispute over patents between Nokia and Apple. After being at odds with Apple for years, Nokia announced that it had reached an agreement with Apple to put to rest all legal disagreements between each other. As part of the agreement, Apple will make a one-time payment and additional on-going royalties to Nokia.
post #2 of 21
Dear Department of Jesters

Being aggressive with patents is precisely why patents exist for companies. Why go through the
effort to grant patents if the expectation is that companies don't fight for them?

Pretty silly.
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post #3 of 21
Can anybody explain to me what the US DOJ has to do with a Canadian company buying another Canadian company's patent portfolio?

When is the last time the Canadian DOJ was concerned about local US matters?
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Dear Department of Jesters

Being aggressive with patents is precisely why patents exist for companies. Why go through the
effort to grant patents if the expectation is that companies don't fight for them?

Pretty silly.

I was thinking the same thing.

If someone has to win I hope it is Apple.
post #5 of 21
DOJ hadn't found any "major competitive" issues with Google and was actually more concerned about Apple

They must be joking. Google repeatedly demonstrated distain for intellectual property, violating patents and stealing ideas. Now the best solution is to grant them a war chest/nuke bomb so they can ward off evil companies going after them and get away with it all.
It is like saying "we cannot deny the burglar a gun because he needs to defend himself against those aggressive folks who are persecuting him".
Let's not be mistaken here: it is about Android and about letting Google get away with stolen iP in there.
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abracadabra View Post

DOJ hadn't found any "major competitive" issues with Google and was actually more concerned about Apple

They must be joking. Google repeatedly demonstrated distain for intellectual property, violating patents and stealing ideas. Now the best solution is to grant them a war chest/nuke bomb so they can ward off evil companies going after them and get away with it all.
It is like saying "we cannot deny the burglar a gun because he needs to defend himself against those aggressive folks who are persecuting him".
Let's not be mistaken here: it is about Android and about letting Google get away with stolen iP in there.

agreed
post #7 of 21
Google "gun runner" to see the Obama DOJ in action.
post #8 of 21
What planet is this? "Aggressive with intellectual property"? Do they expect Apple to pay for them, then share them like a good little boy with his marbles?

Do they think Google will pay a billion+ and then allow others to use the patents?

What a joke.
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2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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post #9 of 21
Why can't everybody be fair and square. DOJ, regardless how or who, just treat every bidder the same would you! Talking about justice, meh! I guess that's American style. Huh?
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by fool View Post

Can anybody explain to me what the US DOJ has to do with a Canadian company buying another Canadian company's patent portfolio?

When is the last time the Canadian DOJ was concerned about local US matters?

That's an interesting point. I imagine it's because some of the patents in question are US patents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

Do they think Google will pay a billion+ and then allow others to use the patents?

What a joke.

Yes, if you replace use with license. The story contains a quote about patents related to LTE---an easy-to-misuse term but typically related to the core technology for next generation cellular technology. The DOJ probably wants to make sure that those patents will be used to further the public good in a competitive manner.

I actually think Apple wants to push US wireless carriers into a commodity role, which would be a sort of communication Nirvana for everyone except the carriers. If that's the case, then I hope they win.
post #11 of 21
Complete and utter crap.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abracadabra View Post

DOJ hadn't found any "major competitive" issues with Google and was actually more concerned about Apple

They must be joking. Google repeatedly demonstrated distain for intellectual property, violating patents and stealing ideas. Now the best solution is to grant them a war chest/nuke bomb so they can ward off evil companies going after them and get away with it all.
It is like saying "we cannot deny the burglar a gun because he needs to defend himself against those aggressive folks who are persecuting him".
Let's not be mistaken here: it is about Android and about letting Google get away with stolen iP in there.

This government is about redistribution of wealth. Google has been free loading on other peoples IPRs. It uses news from other sources and packs them with adds to make their money. Or just steal ideas like the iPhone and the multi touch tech. Where was Google before Apple come up with iOS? They even had a Judas in the Apple Board of Directors.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Earlier this month, the Journal reported that the DOJ hadn't found any "major competitive" issues with Google and was actually more concerned about Apple.

The quick wrap up on discussions with Google couldn't possbly have anything to do with Where Google falls on the Obama donor rankings.
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post #14 of 21
There could also be concern about the winning bidder stifling innovation from any of it's competitors. For instance, with these patents in Apple's stable, does anyone here think they would ever license the use of any of them to the competition? I have no doubt Apple would attempt to block any and all use of any tech that even vaguely resembles any patent they're able to purchase. There won't be anyone else having access to any claimed technology or uses, and the pace of improvements for the consumer would slow to a crawl.

Related to that, is anyone here honestly concerned that Google would move aggressively against Apple or Microsoft? Or think that Google won't put a least a portion of these patents in the public domain?
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

There could also be concern about the winning bidder stifling innovation from any of it's competitors. For instance, with these patents in Apple's stable, does anyone here think they would ever license the use of any of them to the competition? I have no doubt Apple would attempt to block any and all use of any tech that even vaguely resembles any patent they're able to purchase. There won't be anyone else having access to any claimed technology or uses, and the pace of improvements for the consumer would slow to a crawl.

Related to that, is anyone here honestly concerned that Google would move aggressively against Apple or Microsoft? Or think that Google won't put a least a portion of these patents in the public domain?

IANAL but I believe that Apple would have to license the LTE tech the same as NOKIA had to license parts of their technology.

I would much rather have Apple taking in the license money then paying it.
post #16 of 21
Cell phones have become so ubiquitous that it seems absurd that there could be anything patentable at this point. Patents in communications technology are fine until the technology becomes standardized. Like the Internet itself, which is a standard, as opposed to a system where everyone used a different protocol, enables communication across a wide area. Cell phones should be the same. Having all these different formats just makes digital communication difficult when you travel. The major governments should get together and globalize the cell phone communication protocol and then share it with the world, sort of like they did with HDTV. Patents that affect the foundations of the platform are counterproductive to consumers and world citizens.

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post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Related to that, is anyone here honestly concerned that Google would move aggressively against Apple or Microsoft? Or think that Google won't put a least a portion of these patents in the public domain?

Me, because Google is a corporation that needs to keep it's shareholders satisfied.

These patents cost billions and are only worth it if you are a manufacturer with high production volumes or an investor seeing the chance to get the money back through license fees in a reasonable timeframe. (I think there are a lot of opportunities with a faster ROI than these patents.)
A third reason would be to achieve a competitive advantage.

Making patents public domain fulfills none of these.

If they buy them to provide selected partners a competitive advantage, starting their own device manufacturing or get the money back through license fees they have the same goals as RIM, Apple or someone else.

I think it comes down to the question whom you prefer to have the advantage.
post #18 of 21
The DOJ allows shipments of machine guns and assault rifles to Mexican drug cartels and they're supplying those killers with weapons and I can't even play a simple, innocent game of poker on my Mac if I wanted to anymore.

Somebody needs to investigate the hooligans at the DOJ. They can start at the top with Eric Holder and work their way down.
post #19 of 21
If DOJ is so concerned about those patents, they should just buy it and license it out for free.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Cell phones have become so ubiquitous that it seems absurd that there could be anything patentable at this point. Patents in communications technology are fine until the technology becomes standardized. Like the Internet itself, which is a standard, as opposed to a system where everyone used a different protocol, enables communication across a wide area. Cell phones should be the same. Having all these different formats just makes digital communication difficult when you travel. The major governments should get together and globalize the cell phone communication protocol and then share it with the world, sort of like they did with HDTV. Patents that affect the foundations of the platform are counterproductive to consumers and world citizens.

Which socialist dictatorship do you live under (or is it wishful thinking)?
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Being aggressive with patents is precisely why patents exist for companies. Why go through the
effort to grant patents if the expectation is that companies don't fight for them?

There are different kinds of aggressiveness. It's entirely proper for a patent holder to aggressively defend their patent's validity and require those using the patented technology to pay license fees. It's sometimes acceptable to refuse permission outright, but in a situation such as this where licensees may lose their licenses due to a bankruptcy sale - such an attitude could be construed as anti-competitive.

Ultimately I expect the DoJ will permit Apple to bid, they may simply want some reassurance about how Apple intends to use the patents. Whether this is an offensive or defensive play.
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