Report: Justice Department approves Google's bid for Nortel patents

Antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice approved Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) opening "stalking horse" bid of $900 million for bankrupt Nortel Networks' patent trove, which includes LTE patents, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal

The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said that after reviewing the bid, regulators concluded that Google's potential ownership of the portfolio would not cause major anticompetitive concerns. The auction is set for June 20 and Nortel must reveal at least a day in advance which companies have filed bids for the 6,000 patents, Nortel's last remaining key asset. The Justice Department declined to comment, according to the Journal

The approval comes as a handful of major technology and wireless companies filed 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.

Reports have indicated in recent months that Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) may bid for the patents. RPX Corp., a patent-buying firm, has confirmed it is interested in the portfolio.

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

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