updated 01:50 pm EDT, Mon July 11, 2011
Apple-run group OK to buy Nortel's 6,000 patents
Nortel won quick clearance on Monday for its selloff of 6,000 patents. Both Canadian and US courts cleared the deal to the Apple-led Rockstar consortium that also includes Microsoft, RIM, and Sony, among others. It's not clear when the traansfer will take place.
The approval also might not completely avoid regulatory issues. Leaks have emerged of a federal antitrust investigation into whether or not the deal is anticompetitive. Concerns have existed that the coalition will use the 6,000 mostly wireless-focused patents from Nortel to sue Android phone manufacturers and slow Google down or raise the prices on its partners' phones.
Google had bid $900 million to fend off 'casual' purchases of the patents, either from patent trolls that exist only on lawsuits or from companies that are Android competitors but wouldn't have the clout to buy all the patents. When it became clear that Rockstar could easily pass the target, Google kept raising its bids but, for unknown reasons, decided to stop considerably lower than the $4.5 billion that won the auction.
A lack of patents has been a problem for Google. Partners like HTC and Motorola have been targets of lawsuits from Apple and Microsoft that are ultimately targeted at Android but which can't get countersuits or other forms of patent support.