Bell Labs was once a jewel of American science. After the Justice Department broke up the Bell System, AT&T let Bell Labs deteriorate until it spun them off as part of Lucent. Lucent, in turn, deteriorated until it was bought up by Alcatel, which seems to be now behaving as a patent troll.
Alcatel just won an enormous patent suit against Microsoft -- $1.52 billion for using Bell Labs work on the MP3 format. The suit manner may or may not hold up, but I presume that Alcatel is now preparing suits against others, finally figuring out how it can commoditize the work of Bell Labs.