A published report says Nortel is shopping around its remaining patent portfolio, but the company won't confirm the rumour, saying only that it is trying to "maximise the potential" of them.

The story on the Wall Street Journal website says the company is seeking bids under NDAs so secret those who sign them aren't allowed to say they've signed them.

A spokeswoman for Nortel wouldn't comment on the story, but says the company has announced its intent to maximise the value of the patents as part of the bankrupt company's attempt to pay back its creditors as much as possible of what it owes them.

The spokeswoman says the company's next filing with the Security and Exchange Commission reads, "No decision has been made as to how to realise the value of our patent portfolio, whether through sale, licensing, some combination of the two or other alternatives."

These patents include Nortel's long-term evolution (LTE) technology that is one option for broadband wireless service networks.

Patents covering the products made by divisions that Nortel has already sold off were sold to the businesses that bought those divisions. So, for example, Ericsson owns the patents for the CDMA gear it bought and Avaya owns the patents covering the VoIP and networking gear it bought, the spokeswoman says.