updated 10:21 am EST, Tue December 24, 2013
Apple, Microsoft among Rockstar partners
The Rockstar Consortium -- a collection of companies including Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Sony, and Microsoft -- is planning to sell a portion of the $4.5 billion in patents it bought from Nortel Networks in 2011, sources tell Bloomberg. Rockstar is allegedly already in talks with potential buyers. Three of the sources indicate that this is because it hasn't had much success with large licensing deals.
Ottawa-based Nortel was once North America's biggest phone equipment company, also controlling a number of key telecommunications patents. As it began to dissolve, it decided to sell off those patents, igniting a bidding war between two rival factions led by Apple and Google. Apple's side eventually won, but relatively little activity has happened since. In July, an intellectual property company called Spherix bought a collection of patents for $1 million in stock, an unpublished amount of cash, and a percentage of profits.
Rockstar has also pursued some patent infringement lawsuits, namely one targeting Google, Huawei, ASUS, ZTE, HTC, Samsung, LG, and Pantech. Bloomberg's sources note that the patents up for sale aren't involved in any court cases. They also comment that because Rockstar doesn't want to take a loss on sales, it may push for profit sharing in future deals. Another strategic move may involve getting a third party to join the consortium, diluting existing investors.