The i - Patent portfolio sold for US$4.5 billion to ...?

The winning bid for the patent portfolio of Norton Networks (and certain of its subsidiaries)  came from a consortium of industry names and had a cash value of US$ 4.5 billion!

The sale included more than 6,000 patents and patent applications and touched all areas of telecommunications as well as internet searching and social networking. The fact that the successful consortium included Apple, EMC, Erricsson, Microsoft, Research in Motion and Sony is indicative of how important patents are to large technology companies and the importance they place on continuing to strengthen their existing portfolios. The portfolio  was offered for sale by auction after an offer from Google to purchase the entire portfolio for US$ 900 million fell through. Google was not part of the winning consortium.

As George Reidel, Chief Strategy Officer and President of Business Units, Notel, noted "The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world".

Although for most SMEs patents can prove expensive both to file and maintain, if they cover key technology or significant new developments in a field they can prove to be extremely valuable assets. Such assets can beused as security; the income generated from licensing securitized, or, if the business changes diection or fails altogether, the porfolio can be sold outright either by auction or otherwise, thereby releasing capital for investors and/or shareholders.

The i notes that whilst not every business will have a portfolio the size or value of Nortel's, every business should be in a position to identify its own IP assets; have a plan in place for their protection commensurate with their strategic importance; and conduct regular reviews of its IP so that if finances are tight or the business undergoes a change of direction, the business is well placed to dipose of or licence any surplus or redundant IP.   

For more information on IP auctions click here 

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