Nortel will delay the start of a closely watched auction of 6,000 mobile patents by a week as it evaluates what it called “a significant level of interest” from those hoping to bolster their portfolios.
The auction was expected to take place on June 20th, but Nortel announced Thursday morning that the auction will now take place on June 27th. In April Google (NSDQ: GOOG) was chosen as the “stalking-horse bid” for the auction process, which means that its bid of $900 million for the patents effectively sets the floor for further bids. Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM), Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC), and other patent firms are said to be considering bids for the patents in what could eventually push their value north of $1 billion.
It’s kind of a sad state of affairs when documents that were supposed to reward inventors for their inspiration are bought and sold on the open market, but that’s been the case for a long time. Google has pledged to use the patents defensively if it wins the auction, but others may not bind themselves to the same pledge and could use the opportunity to launch new lawsuits that Nortel was unable or unwilling to pursue in hopes of recouping their $1 billion or so investment.