Bankrupt telecoms firm Nortel has sold its remaining patent portfolio for $4.5bn (£2.8bn) to a consortium of six firms including Apple and Microsoft. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft was meant to have a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license for every single one of Nortel’s patents — but the fact that it’s part of the auction-winning consortium would suggest that its legal footing was a little shaky, and didn’t want to test the terms of its license with Google at the helm of the portfolio. With all that said, Nortel’s portfolio can be broken down into 5 categories: telephony; internet, search and social networking; mobile phones and networks (GSM, 3G, and 4G LTE); data networking (optical and electrical); and semiconductors. When you realize that Google only has around 600 patents of its own, mostly covering its primary search product, you can see why it really, really wanted a piece of the Nortel pie. Google’s primary business is well protected, but as it invests more and more effort into Android and the mobile space, it has almost zero protection from older tech juggernauts. This is the reason that Google is being sued by Oracle, and why Microsoft has successfully levied royalties from manufacturers of Android devices. Nortel’s patent portfolio would’ve provided a modicum of defense from both patent trolling and earnest litigation — but now, having lost the auction, Google is in an even weaker position. Also in 2010 the top three patent registering companies were: IBM with 5896 patents. Samsung with 4511 patents. Microsoft with 3094 patents.