Report: Apple, Google, Huawei, ZTE all vying for Nortel's patents

The race is on for bankrupt Nortel Networks' patent portfolio, and, according to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Huawei and ZTE are among the potential bidders.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and has sold itself off in pieces to pay creditors. Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) purchased many of the pieces, including Nortel's core CDMA and LTE businesses. The patent portfolio, which is one of Nortel's last remaining assets, includes 4,000 patents, including those related to LTE.

According to the Journal, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the "stalking horse" bid for the patent portfolio--the bid that sets a base price for the auction--could be $1 billion. However, the company that wins the stalking horse bid doesn't always wind up winning the auction. Nokia Siemens Networks received the stalking horse bid of $650 million for the CDMA and LTE assets that Ericsson eventually won for $1.13 billion.

The report said that one bidder is a consortium that includes two patent-licensing companies, Intellectual Ventures and InterDigital, as well as the hedge fund Fortress Investment Group. A second group includes the patent-licensing firm RPX, the report added.

In December, Reuters reported Apple, Google and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) were among those interested in bidding for Nortel's patents, and that the portfolio was separated into six groupings covering different kinds of technologies, including LTE.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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