Recent Patent Deals:

  • Microsoft/Apple/RIM have joined together to purchase 6,000 Nortel patents for $4.5 billion. Although the sale reportedly completed this week, the US Department of Justice is investigating to consider whether the collaborative purchase was done with the intent (or potential result) of limiting competition. [Background]
  • In May 2011, Google acquired over 1,000 patents from IBM.  Acting strategically, Google did not record the assignment until after the Nortel deal.   The IBM patents appear to be focused on a Google core function of data storage. See, e.g., U.S. Patent No. 7,266,596.
  • LSI transferred 115 patents to NetApp after an asset purchase. LSI also transferred 26 patents to INVENSAS which is a subsidiary of licensing-focused TESSERA.
  • Patent enforcer Wi-LAN purchased 60 patents from Glenacre Electronics for a reported $8 million. The patents all appear to relate to wireless communications.
  • NXP sold its sound solutions business to Knowles Electronics, along with a few dozen patents. The obscure "Nytell Software" obtained another few dozen NPX patents.
  • Patent protector RPX purchased 28 patents from Fairchild Semiconductor and 15 patents from Celltrace.
  • Small private company OnSpec transferred its 26 patents to the patent enforcer TPLGroup.
  • The New Jersey company OMAHA ACQUISITION obtained a dozen or so patents related to patient beds from SANDEL MEDICAL INDUSTRIES, LLC.
  • In its settlement with Walker Digital, Apple purchased the patents it had been accused of infringing.

23 thoughts on “Recent Patent Deals:

  1. OF COURSE the Rockstar patent consortium made its Nortel patent purchase with the intent (AND potential result) of limiting competition! Isn’t that kind of the point? If owning IP with the purpose of “limiting” competition is the DOJ’s sole criterion for evaluating the legitimacy of an enterprise, then every patent owner in existence is running a crooked business! Though I do understand the importance of ensuring fair business dealing, I think that “limiting competition” would have to come perilously close to anti-trust territory before the DOJ would have authority to do much about the deal. Let’s put it another way: if Google had handled the deal skillfully (or at least more stealthily) and won its bid, would the DOJ be making similar inquiries into Google’s purchase right now?

  2. Resorting to name-calling

    lulz – and the “biggest name-caller on the blog” award goes to…

    the crybaby who Wah-wah-wah’d to Dennis when name calling was turned against the one who calls names himself, when the simian reference was used – good grief – banning a simian reference? talk about over-reacting and catering to the whims of a very vocal minority…

    …your very own Malcolm Mooney.

  3. Probably because they have reason to believe some criminal activity is going on.

    Just because the DOJ decides to investigate a patent acquisition doesn’t mean the patent system as a whole is intended to stifle rather then promote competition.

    Also, there is indeed something “magic” about a group rather than an individual doing the buying. Much antitrust law involves agreements between parties. Obviously this presupposes more than one party.

  4. Same to you, anon! LOL.

    Keep pounding the table, just like your daddy did when he wasn’t beating your mother.

  5. I’ve worked with axxhxles like this. Pathetic people.

    lulz – you are “axxhxles” like that. Pathetic that you don’t pick up on this.

  6. But that does not necessarily extend to competitors who misuse a patent to suppress competition as in the Selden Patent Case involving Henry Ford.

    A minor, but important correction.

    on RR non discriminatory basis, which means that Google will get an opportunity to purchasea license on a cost-justified basis- license.”

    An important and perhaps not minor correction.

  7. “Shut down everyone else.” Ok. A patentee has a legal right to license no one, some, and has a right to impose discriminatory royalties. See, USM Corp. (Fed. Cir. 1982). But that does not necessarily extend to competitors who use a patent to suppress competition as in the Selden Patent Case involving Henry Ford.

    We shall see. I do not expect the Justice Dept. will approve the deal unless the acquiring faction (competitors in the relevant market) agree to license the patents on RR non discriminatory basis, which means that Google will get a license.

    Had Google acquired the patents, they could have, it seems, acted arbitrarily.

    The contrary results do seem strange and perhaps not justifiable.

  8. Ned

    There is nothing magic in the fact that a group bought the patents. How would it be better if just one person had bought the patents and tried to shut down everyone else?

  9. If the law is on your side, pound the law.
    If the facts are on your side, pound the facts.
    If neither the law, nor the facts, are on your side, pound the table.

    I’ve worked with axxhxles like this. Pathetic people.

  10. Red Monkey,

    You are close – the design-around effect is to encourage innovation, rather than competition.

    Forcing someone to either pay-up (to whatever price the market will bear) or to create your own solution is an aspect of the patent system often (intentionally?) overlooked by those who decry the patent system, who shallowly cling to the notions that patents are harmful because they “block innovation” or “force rents.”

    Thus, there is both a carrot and a stick to the promotion of the useful arts.

    If you don’t want to pay the just reward, and you are too lazy to come up with a better mousetrap, then you have two (legal) options – don’t use the invention at all or wait until the patent lapses and then use the invention when it becomes part of the public domain.

    Being lazy and impatient is no excuse for illegal behavior.

  11. Only goes to show that those who are anti-patent (those who throw around terms like “troll”) are anti-property.

    If the law is on your side, pound the law.
    If the facts are on your side, pound the facts.
    If neither the law, nor the facts, are on your side, pound the table.

    Resorting to name-calling and dehumanizing the opponent (trolls being non-human) is simply table pounding.

    Beware that person who stoops to name calling – it shows a lack of law and fact support.

  12. Don’t make no sense.

    If Inventor A works fo hisself, and files/receives 100 patents – must be a-okay!

    If Inventor A start his own company, files/receives 100 patents, and wants to sell to company B, might not be a-okay!(?)

    If the day before inventor A receives his 100 patents, and form with him company B, must be a-okay!

    If the day after inventor A receives his 100 patents, and you try to form with him company B, might not be a-okay!(?)

    Inventor A’s property is okay for him to enforce directly (not a troll – he bes the inventor).

    But inventor A’s property is not okay for a purchased to enforce (the bes a troll).

  13. Can someone translate for me:
    “licensing-focused”
    “patent protector”
    “patent enforcer”
    Do all these mean “troll”, and we’re just trying to broaden our vocabulary and not get sued, or are there deep subtleties here that I’m missing?

  14. Hey, Joe, check my discussion of the Selden patent in other threads. Selden had a patent on the car. Big Car formed a cartel which controlled licensing of the patent. Along comes Henry Ford and the assembly line and low cost cars. He applies for a license from the cartel, but is denied. The nominal reason is that they don’t like the stench of his cigar. The real reason is that he is going to steal their lunches by grabbing market share if he as a license due to innovative manufacturing techniques.

    The problem with the Nortel patent purchase is not the patent system, but joint ownership of the patents by Big Cell Phone, not including upstart Google. The comparison to the Selden patent cartel/Henry Ford is remarkable.

    One wonders how this deal can be justified unless the cartel members agree to license all comers at a non discriminatory rate. In this case, how can they deny Google a license?

  15. How can the Department of Justice investigate the anti-competitive effects of the Nortel sale without calling into question the legitimacy of the patent system as a whole?

    The whole point of patents is to discourage competition.

  16. “That was not the only, or even the most important, strategic move.

    The huge stalking horse and the number-theory inflating bids made sure that the host of competitors vastly overpaid for the Nortel intellectual property.”

    Lulz. I <3 me some google.

    “Had Google actually wanted that property, they too would have created a group to bid and capture the “treasure trove.”"

    I thought they did make a group, but theirs wasn’t as big?

  17. Acting strategically, Google did not record the assignment until after the Nortel deal.

    That was not the only, or even the most important, strategic move.

    The huge stalking horse and the number-theory inflating bids made sure that the host of competitors vastly overpaid for the Nortel intellectual property.

    Had Google actually wanted that property, they too would have created a group to bid and capture the “treasure trove.”

    Taking so much of their competitor’s cash out of play is an underappreciated business move.

  18. “…the US Department of Justice is investigating to consider whether the collaborative purchase was done with the intent (or potential result) of limiting competition.”

    lol

    Of course it was done with the intent of limiting competition. The real question is what slap-on-the-wrist ruling will DoJ give to let them keep the patents. Maybe they’ll have to give up a dozen or so insignificant ones.

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