updated 06:30 pm EDT, Wed July 6, 2011
Canada concerned Nortel patent sale breaks law
Canada's Industry Minister Christian Paradis said on Wednesday that his country would look into Nortel's sale of patents to an Apple-led coalition. The investigation will see if the auction has to be reviewed under the Investment Canada Act. The government must automatically review any deal worth $312 million CAD or more to see if it would benefit the country.
Insiders talking to the WSJ said the buyout, at least superficially, didn't meet the requirements for a review. Patents haven't counted as fiscal assets for Nortel. The company also reportedly never made more than $10 million a year on patent royalties and would have been exempt.
Worries exist on both sides of the Canada-US border that the coalition's collective bid of $4.5 billion might hurt competition. Beyond Apple and RIM, the group also includes Microsoft and Sony. They may decide to avoid suing each other but could use their weight to attack Google's Android. Observers have criticized Google for a seemingly dismissive stance to the auction, making bids based on Pi and other math constants but capping its bids lower than the others.
Google has regularly been the target of lawsuits and forced patent royalty deals, including direct challenges by Oracle as well as Microsoft's shakedown campaign trying to punish any company uses Android without also using Windows Phone.