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DOJ investigating Apple bid on Nortel phone patents

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hmmm Google

    Google dominates the US smartphone market share and it's okay for them to have the patents. Apple is number 2 and it's illegal. Is the DOJ dumb on justice?

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Clarence

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jun 2011



    Apple can go home with that patent nonsense. Maybe Steve Jobs should patent snobbery.

    Comment buried. Show
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    Joined: Dec 1969


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  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All Patent Trolls

    should be investigated.

    Apple being investigated?? Sounds about right.


    - Sent from my Android Device.

  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Political beasts need care and feeding

    Google understands this, and lobbies excessively. Funny how they don't have any investigation into their dealings on this, nor on their collusion with Verizon to subvert the net neutrality stuff in the FCC, nor their meddling with the bidding process on the 700 MHz. spectrum...

    Apple, on the other hand, is a bit more honest about their dealings. Yeah, Al Gore is on the board, but Steve Jobs has never tried to super glue himself to a sitting president, as Eric Schmidt has. To my knowledge there are no current or former Apple employees appointed as unaccountable czars within this administration, as there are with the big lobbying companies who receive magnanimous exemptions from the government (e.g. GE, GM, Google).

    The DOJ is an ugly political enforcer that comes down on those that don't pay the tribute. Yeah, Microsoft was monopolistic and used that position to unfair advantage, but what really got that company in trouble is its absence from the lobbying scene in Washington. Now, Microsoft lobbies generously, and no longer has trouble with the DOJ.

    With the current rhetoric of class warfare in Washington, Apple has become the new face of "corporate greed" and "Wall Street". The problem is that they are sitting on a huge pile of cash, with a market cap only second to one of those evil oil companies. They must be doing something crooked, as they shouldn't have that much money without spreading some of it around D.C. How dare they be successful without the government's help, because producing and performing is no longer the accepted American Way. This investigation is how the government will "help" them...

    -- Len

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