Apple reportedly receives approval to bid in massive Nortel patent auction

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been cleared to bid in the auction that begins today for bankrupt Nortel Networks' trove of patents that include LTE patents.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission cleared Apple to bid on the patents Thursday. Additionally, antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice have been reviewing the proposed bid and regulators there approved Apple's requested bid, according to a Bloomberg report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this month, antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice approved Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) opening "stalking horse" bid of $900 million for the patents. The regulators concluded that Google's potential ownership of the portfolio would not cause major anticompetitive concerns.

Nortel had postponed its sale of the patents, citing a "significant level of interest." The company had planned to put its 6,000 patents up for auction June 20 but delayed the auction until June 27. The winning bid could be well over $1 billion.

The approval comes as a handful of major technology and wireless companies file complaints with the bankruptcy court overseeing the proceedings about the way the auction rules have been written.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which said it holds worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free access to Nortel's patents via a cross-licensing deal the companies inked in 2006, argued that any prior agreements should be transferred to the new owner of the patents. Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) also lodged complaints about the rules.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this FierceWireless article

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