updated 06:10 pm EDT, Fri June 3, 2011
DOJ tracking Apple bid on Nortel but skips Google
Sources revealed on Friday that the US Department of Justice was investigating the potential Apple bid in Nortel's wireless patent auction. Officials claimed that they were concerned about the consequences of giving the patents to the iPhone maker, who would get patents related to LTE-based 4G, Wi-Fi, and software features like search or wireless video. Apple had been trying to assuage officials, the tipsters told the Wall Street Journal.
Google's $900 million bid has already partly cleared, although what was left wasn't expected to be an issue. The search firm does have a stake in competition with Android but said from the start its bid was a "stalking horse" move intended to guard against patent trolls or others whose only intent would be to use the patents for lawsuits.
None of the involved parties have so far commented on the process.
Nortel's patent sale, conducted to help get it out of bankruptcy, is considered a dangerous auction for potential abuse to drag down competitors. Apple has been suing companies even more aggressive and is effectively hoping to force phone makers to switch to Windows Phone.
A patent deal could alternately act as a defense for the primarily North American bidders. Apple might be keen to use the patents as a defense against Nokia's lawsuit over wireless technology by forcing Nokia to take an LTE patent to develop 4G phones just as it wants Apple to license its 3G work.