In July, a consortium comprising Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony, Ericsson and EMC paid $4.5 billion for 6,000 patents from the now liquidated networking company Nortel. That's $750k per patent.
When bidding for Nortel's patents, Google offered $900 million but was outbid. Then Google announced (on 15 August) that for $12.5 billion it was buying Motorola Mobility, which has 17,000 patents. That's $735k per patent and a first-class hardware company for free.
Over the two days following Google's announcement, $291m were added to the market capitalization of Eastman Kodak on speculation as to the value of its patent portfolio. Eastman Kodak has several parties bidding to buy 1,100 patents. That's an extra of $256,000 per patent of valuation, with some analysts (Bloomberg, 17 August) adding $2m per patent to these figures.
On 15 September, Google announced it had aquired 1,023 IBM patents "to fend off legal attacks by rivals such as Apple and Microsoft". These are in addition to 1,030 patents Google bought from IBM in July. Financial terms of the deal have not been announced.
A question on the blogs is no longer "Who will buy Facebook", but "Who will Facebook buy?"
What Price Essential Patents?
$750,000 per patent seems an awful lot to pay for the Nortel portfolio. We took a look at the European patents and patent applications Nortel has declared as "essential" to the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard. There are 41 of them, of which 12 are granted and of these, 3 are still open to opposition. In other words, 25% of their most valuable European patents are vulnerable to opposition costing a few thousand pounds.