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US antitrust regulators have concerns about Apple’s interest in acquiring patents being auctioned off by Nortel Networks, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The group of over 6,000 patents cover a wide range of technology, including a handful deemed to be essential for the development if Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology, which are also thought the be the ones Apple is most interested in.

Regulators are concerned that patents are being used to stifle competition in the tech industry. If Apple did gain control over LTE patents, the company would certainly be in a position to bargain for better deals from wireless carriers that have the iPhone and iPad on their network.

Apple is notoriously good at getting immovable objects to seemingly move, like the initial agreements with AT&T over a data plan and strong arming record labels into keeping one price point for single song downloads. But in both of those situations, the company didn’t have key patents crucial to the businesses they were negotiating with. So, at the very least, antitrust regulators are rightly concerned about the long-term effect of Apple having more clout.

The patent auction will take place June 20 between Apple, Research In Motion and Google.

Initially, regulators also had concerns over Google, which made a $900 million bid for the bulk of Nortel patents, but are now at ease, reports the WSJ.

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