Report: Justice Department probes potential bidders of Nortel's patents

The Justice Department is reportedly scrutinizing the potential bidders for the thousands of patents bankrupt Nortel Networks is selling off as the agency is concerned they could end up in the hands of a company that may use them as weapons in patent battles between handset manufacturers.

Nortel's patent trove includes about 6,000 patents, including those related to wireless services, data networking and LTE. In April, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) entered a "stalking horse" bid of $900 million for bankrupt Nortel Networks' patent portfolio, setting the stage for what will likely be a fierce battle to grab the former technology giant's prized intellectual property. 

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that the investigation in another indication that the Justice Department's interest in whether patents are bing used to suffocate competition in high-tech industries is growing. 

Back in April, Google framed its bid as an attempt to defend itself against frivolous patent lawsuits. The company also reiterated a call for a reform of the patent process. But other potential vendors may be more aggressive in using patents to gain the upper hand. The sources told the newspaper that the Justice Department is most concerned about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which is the midst of bitter patents lawsuits with vendors such as Nokia.

The auction result is expected to be announced on 20th June.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- read this Cellular-News article

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