DOJ clears Apple and Intel to bid on major Nortel patents

The Department of Justice on Friday gave the go-ahead to Apple and Intel to bid on Nortel’s highly valued patent portfolio. The two high-profile firms follow Google as potential bidders.

Nortel’s patents relate to all manner of technologies, including Wi-Fi, social networking, and 3G and 4G wireless capabilities—all things that could help better position whatever tech firm ends up winning. Patent ownership can also come in handy for fighting back when another firm sues over a patent claim.

Google’s opening $900 million bid on Nortel’s patents was accepted by the DOJ a week ago, with bidding starting on Monday. The auction was originally supposed to take place on June 20, but it was delayed as other firms waited for bid approval.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009, and since then it has been selling off its assets. Google’s $900 million bid will act as the floor for all other bids, so players like Apple and Intel will be allowed to submit their own higher bids after that.

U.S. antitrust regulators had been reportedly looking closely at Apple concerning its bid on Nortel’s patents because Apple could potentially stifle competition with them. If Apple controlled wireless 4G LTE patents, for example, it could pressure carriers into meeting its demands.