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Nortel auction delayed as interest rises

Motorola Solutions is licensing patents from Microsoft

Fading giant Nortel has postponed the sale of its extensive patent portfolio, due to a “significant level of interest”.

The company had planned to flog the assets this coming Monday, June 20, but has delayed the auction process until June 27, as it assesses considerable interest in the 6,000 or so patents and applications.

Earlier this week, Microsoft joined HP, Motorola Mobility and Nokia in a growing line of tech companies opposed to Google’s proposed $900m bid for the patent assets. According to Redmond, a 2006 deal means that Microsoft has a “worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free licence to all of Nortel’s patents” and that this agreement is binding regardless of who buys the intellectual property.

Microsoft said that the current terms of sale jeopardise this arrangement. The software giant, in a submission to the Delaware bankruptcy court, said it is seeking a ruling requiring that licensing agreements currently in place “must remain enforceable against the purchasers of the transferred patents.”

Google’s bid was approved by the courts overseeing Nortel’s bankruptcy proceedings in Canada and the US early in May. Since then, Apple, Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and patent-service company RPX Corp have all been said to be interested in bidding.

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