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IP, Patent

Are We On The Verge Of A Patent Arms Race?

On the heels of stories like Facebook’s purchase of HP and Applied Materials patents and Groupon’s purchase of an early group discounting patent, comes a report today that Apple, Google and RIM are among the bidders for Nortel’s IP portfolio.  If the rumors are true, this may be unprecedented territory for Google, and possibly a hedge against is earlier position that Oracle’s patents are unpatentable, abstract ideasThe move could give the winning bidder control of patents relevant to wireless 3G and 4G technologies, which would provide some much needed leverage, particularly for Google which has so far failed to use any of its own patents to counter Oracle’s attack.  Without any leverage of its own, a defendant accused of patent infringement has very little negotiating power.  Either a carrot or a stick could go a long way toward establishing a bargaining position.  The nice thing about patents is that they can sometimes be used both ways.

The auction could also be good news for anyone else with 3G and 4G technology for sale. Unless, by some miracle, all three parties come away with patents, there will be a winner looking to leverage its investment, and a couple of losers looking for a plan B …

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