Nortel Networks

The buyers of the Nortel patent portfolio are now facing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over how they intend to use the patents they purchased, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Last month, the consortium known as "Rockstar Bidco" -- comprising names like Apple, RIM, Microsoft and Sony -- won the patent auction at a price of $4.5 billion.  The sale was quickly approved by the Canadian and U.S. courts, but the DoJ will now consider what, if any, restrictions should be placed on their use.  According to the WSJ, the DoJ probe (which has not been made public), is specifically asking the winning companies if they plan to use the patents to file suit against manufacturers of Android smartphones.

I think a look at the current situation can answer that. 

Source: Wall Street journal


Reader comments

Nortel patent portfolio buyers face Justice Department investigation


Better late than never. Actually, this time it might be better late than early. The irony will have me laughing my a.. off if they are banned from using the patents in Android disputes, but stuck with the purchase. 4.5 Billion down the drain.

You have to push off the investigations until after you get greased ;)

For a more complete explanation refer to Rodney Dangerfield in the movie Back To School

It's funny to see the lengths that Apple, RIM, & Microsoft will go to (instead of designing hardware/software) to try to bring down a superior competitor.

Android is superior? Um no.
Android may have more features than iOS but it does very few things better.
I got an unlocked galaxy s2 from amazon a month ago hoping it would be the god phone most android sites/blogs say it is, only to find out it was a $700 worth of disappointments.
Yes, the screen is gorgeous. Yes, it supports at&t's "4G." Yes, it's the most customizable phone I've ever had.
But all that is overshadowed by beta-like, choppy feel of the whole system. Even the apps ported from iOS (pulse, watchESPN, Words with Friends, Beejive, Netflix, etc..)don't look as good and feel incomplete.
I've upgraded to 2.3.4, rooted, and used about three different ROMs but none of those make it any better. How can you call an OS running on nextgen hardware "superior" to a year old (i)OS when it doesn't operate as smooth nor can it run apps better than the latter? The customizability argument can only go so far...about a month. The choice argument ended when I chose this phone. What am I missing here? I want to like this phone, I really do. But it's not "superior" to the iPhone 4 like every android enthusiast would like to believe and it's mainly because of android.

Nobody told you to invest in a "$700 disappointment". No one cares that you can't adapt to a different OS. Maybe you should go cry to your mommy and she'll make you a new batch of iOS kool-aid to pacify your cries.

what are you doing to make that phone lag?? my nexus one isnt choppy at all and just about any app works fine on it

im not familiar with that phone but call me crazy... unless its aosp based android the phones do actually run like garbage so you might have a point. your best bet is to wait for cyanogen if its not stable on that phone yet imo.

Something needs to be clarified. Both Apple & Google are pursuing different strategies.

1)Make a high quality product - controlling everything end to end (Operating System, Hardware, approve/restrict apps, restrict non-approved use(jailbreak).
2)Heavy integration with existing products and services.
3)Charge premium

1)Make a product where some/a lot of the load can be carried by other people (Open Source).
2)Get it into as many products as possible.
3)Selectively Restrict use of OS with control of Android Market.
4)Profit (mobile advertisement) from sheer market size.

I get that you don't like the mix and match model that android has. It doesn't work for you, that's fine.

I on the other hand don't like being told what to do with things that I buy. It just doesn't work for me. I love to mix and match. I am current rocking my Sprint Hero. Which HTC, understandably, stopped supporting. Thanks to CyangenMod I have an up to date phone.

As a general note, the last thing anyone wants to do is deal with only one company. Not the wireless service providers, chip manufacturers/designers & consumers. They don't want to have to be told by Apple or Google how it's going to be, especially by Apple. So basically it doesn't matter what company/OS you like there won't be one dominate player. Considering that cellphones are replaced somewhat frequently there is room enough for multiple players.

Wrong. Even my ancient Nexus One does everything you complain about without your complaints. It also has about twice the useful features as an iPhone 4. I'm thinking your problem is Samsung, not Android.

What did they possibly think Apple would do with these Nortel patents, doe the JD not look at Apples court cases

The Obama administration may be a of of things, but one thing its not, is stupid. The DOJ know that the majority of US smart phone owners use Android Smart phones. They also know that with HTC is the biggest of those manufactures, followed by Motorola and Samsung. Crippling the sale and distribution of these devices could send major waves through the US economy since the industry, in general is on a rise.

And for you haters out there, this isn't about Government intervention, its about the failure of these companies to innovate in the era of Android and using lawsuits and patent trolling to shut down its competition.

Hold on there....

Only Motorola is a US company, and its not even clear they manufacture in the US, so how could "crippling the sales of these devices send major waves thru the US economy" ??

According to the WSJ, the DoJ probe (which has not been made public), is specifically asking the winning companies if they plan to use the patents to file suit against manufacturers of Android smartphones.

This is troubling on a number of levels. If patent sales are approved or denied based on your "announced intent", where is the legal justification for that? Where does it say you can own this patent as long as you don't try to enforce it against Party A, or Party B?

I mean, before we get all giddy over this, think how you would feel about the DOJ stepping in when Google bought IBM patents, or when Nokia enforces their patents against Apple. Would you be cheering if the shoe was on the other foot?

Is singling out Android for protection such a good idea? What happens when Uncle Steve contributes a few million here and there to someone's election campaign? Does Apple then get protection?

Now if the DOJ starting to look at patent pools as abusive litigators, I'm fine with that if it's done across the board.

"think how you would feel about the DOJ stepping in when Google bought IBM patents, or when Nokia enforces their patents against Apple. Would you be cheering if the shoe was on the other foot?"

Hell yes. Patents were designed to protect the little guy, who may not be able to afford to mass produce his/her ideas, from people like Apple who use them in a predatory way because they can afford to be first to market.

They should be non-transferable, and fair licensing fees should be mandatory. Until then, we get to watch them be used as a weapon against innovation.

Thank You! I agree 100%. I'm not saying that IP's should not be protected. I'm saying that the whole system has evolved into a big mess and we are at the point where its actually hurting more than its helping! When companies (Yes, I'm a democrat defending corporations here) have to spend BILLIONS of dollars to purchase IP's simply to use as a "mutually assured destruction" legal strategy, then there is a huge problem with the system.

Companies should not be patenting shapes, thinness, and color schemes. The concept is dumb.

Just because the devices aren't manufactured here, does not mean that their discontinuation won't affect the economy. Sales of these device come from American stores, which hire employees here in the states. Lots of Apps are made by American developers. Google is an American companies with employees here in America. The networks the phones run on are American based companies, also with American employees. The people that use the phones, are in fact, Americans.

And what prevents Sony from filing suits against HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and LG over their Android devices? Remember that to be protected from suits the patents need to be in the hands of Google, not just competing manufacture that also uses Android.

Definitively. Not just for RIM's patents, but I could see many more benefits to Android if it was integrated with RIM. First of which is an avenue for Google to manufacture their own flagship Android device. Secondly I could see Android becoming more streamline like IOS, which wouldn't be a bad thing for corporate use. Also I had read a report a few years ago about how smart phones are such data hogs (an obvious for everyone), but the article went on to state that out of all the current smartphone makers RIM was actually the most streamline, and efficient with the way it processes data.

Good! I do hope the sale is blocked or at the very least restricted with usage. Let's be real... part of the patents included 4G & LTE technology. Who here thinks the rotten Apple wouldn't try to ace everybody out with those trying to restrict their use? Anybody? No? Didn't think so.

But it also shows the absolute travesty that has become of the rubber stamps at the trademark & patent division of the gov't. Look at some of these absolutely stupid lawsuits that are going on.

Apple fans save it before you even start. I'm not referring to any one company in particular here, as this sue for this tech & that tech is getting ridiculous. But if you want to get snippy just remember... The very company you hold to the religion like status has it's entire history based on theft & lies. Steve Jobs stole the Mac platform from Xerox after signing an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement)to look at it. Fact. Also let's not forget Apple refusing to pay for the use of the name Apple Corp & the symbol, fully trademarked & patented by The Beatles Holding company. That one finally caught up to them a few years ago.

Let's be real... part of the patents included 4G & LTE technology.

Citation needed !!

Let's get real. If Nortel HAD ANY 4G and LTE technology, they wouldn't be bankrupt.

Don't get too excited, means nothing yet. But what really needs to get investigated is U.S. Patent Law, just screws everyone over.

I like the idea of the DOJ looking out Android or any potential unfair stifle-ling of competition but I can't see an end to this current mess.

Corporations don't spend money without a return and stopping Android is the purpose of their spend.

Remember the ARMY has been testing Android, iOS and Windows based phones for battle field use. I also work for one of the branches of the Military and we can use windows based phones or Android based phones for govt emial use, so it would be in the federal govt best interest to put a stop to this. I wouldn't be shocked if the federal govt switched to android and then push google to buy RIM to make a more android/blackberry corp phone.