The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust authorities have approved Google’s $900 million bid for 6,000 Nortel patents, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday. The auction will take place June 20 and will likely change the legal landscape for tech companies.
If Nortel accepts Google’s offer, the search giant would gain patents related to wired, wireless, and other communications technologies, including Wi-Fi, social networking, and LTE. Google would likely use these patents to help protect Android from litigation, such as Oracle’s suit against Android in August 2010.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009, and since that time it has been selling off individual units and assets. Google’s bid is the floor for all bidding, so the likes of Apple and RIM would be allowed to submit their own higher bids if approved by the Justice Department.
On Monday, Microsoft filed objections to Google buying the patents, suggesting that Google could change the terms of Microsoft’s previously established royalty-free license of Nortel’s patents. AT&T, Verizon, HP, and Nokia have all filed objections as well, according to the Journal.
It was also previously reported that U.S. antitrust regulators had concerns about Apple acquiring Nortel’s patent portfolio because Apple could stifle competition. Having control over LTE patents, for example, would give Apple a substantial bargaining chip when talking to a wireless carrier offering the iPhone or iPad on its network.
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