Today a consortium consisting of Apple, Microsoft, Sony, RIM, Ericsson, and EMC emerged victorious in the auction for Nortel's patents. The pricetag was a staggering $4.5B, or five times the original stalking horse bid from Google and substantially more than all the actual operating units of the company sold for in the company's liquidation combined.
The 6000+ patents and applications will be divided up between the consortium members. For example, RIM is paying $770M, and Ericsson $340M according to Bloomberg. That's one way to get maximum value out of a pile of patents like this that is being sold in bulk. Nobody needs all 6000, but with five very different companies picking over the pile they all walk away with the thousand or so they actually wanted.
And so finally, the last bits of Nortel have left us, to be used for a decade in patent litigation. Sigh.