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Nortel patents fall to the old guard

A consortium of technology heavyweights has made off with a bag of patents and patent applications formerly belonging to Nortel Networks leaving $4.5 billion cash in its place.

It looks like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Ericsson, EMC and Research In Motion all had a look around and saw the main bidder for the portfolio was Google, which had already stuck $900 million on the table, and decided to rustle up the wherewithal to trump that bid.

Nortel's garage sale of more than 6,000 patents and patent applications has had eyelids flickering with dollar signs rolling on the eyeballs underneath, in many a vacant head atop the hunched shoulders of a long list of investors and competitors.

The outfit's work in wireless 4G and 'long term evolution', along with its chip designs, plus patents in networking, web and voice, will give the consortium members freedom to develop in these areas without fear of lawsuits.

Nortel called the value of the transaction "unprecedented" and said it expects to rubber-stamp the deal after a hearing on July 11.