Technology heavyweights including Microsoft, Nokia and HP are trying to derail Google’s proposed acquisition of 6,000 patents owned by bankrupt networking giant Nortel.
Microsoft filed an objection to the process with a bankruptcy court in Delaware, arguing that any purchaser should be bound by the licensing agreements it had previously signed with Nortel. Nokia, HP and others have filed similar complaints.
The companies are worried that a new owner may renege on previous licensing agreements, causing widespread disruption to existing technologies as well as those under development.
Google is in the driving seat for acquiring Nortel’s patents. It signed a $900m (£548m) test agreement with Nortel’s administrators earlier this year.
That agreement does not guarantee that Google will win the auction later this month, in which numerous technology and patent protection firms are expected to bid. However, Google will get $25m (£15m) in compensation if it’s outbidded.
Nortel’s patent portfolio has become hot property after it went bankrupt and other vendors started fighting over various mobile-related patents.
Google has claimed it would only use Nortel’s patents to fend off threats from other patent owners.
The sale of Nortel's assets has already raised £3bn (£1.8bn) for its creditors – a fraction of the $16bn (£9.8bn) they are thought to be owed.
The patents are expected to raise upwards of another $1bn (£600m).