The Justice Department reportedly blessed Google's $900 million opening bid for Nortel Network's 6,000-plus patents and patent applications when the auction begins June 20.
Over objections from rival Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other rivals, the
Justice Department OK'd Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) $900 million bid for more than 6,000 patents
and patent applications owned by bankrupt networking giant Nortel Networks (NYSE:NT).
The DOJ concluded that Google owning the patents wouldn't
raise any major competitive concerns, sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal
. Google may open the bidding in Nortel's June 20
auction, which is also drawing interest from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Research In Motion (TSE:RIM), and
other concerns in the mobile sector.
The DOJ and Google declined confirm or otherwise comment
on the DOJ's ruling.
Nortel Networks April 4 agreed
to sell its remaining 6,000 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless,
networking, social software and other patents to Google for $900 million in
Google craves the patents, which Nortel said span
"nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well,
including Internet search and social networking," to stave off
increasingly rampant patent litigation. Google is especially patent poor for
"One of a company's best defenses against this kind
of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio, as this
helps maintain your freedom to develop new products and services," wrote
Google's Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel, in a blog post
Apple, for one, has been quick to sue Samsung, HTC and
others that make smartphones based on Google's Android mobile operating system
in the mobile sector for the last two years.
The DOJ was reportedly concerned
that if Apple won the patents it would wield them as sword to cut down rivals
from competing in the mobile market.
Tech analysts believe
that while Google may use Nortel patents as a shield to
protect itself from lawsuit, RIM, Apple, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and other hardware makers might
make better use
of Nortel's patent technology, which is actively used in RIM
BlackBerry smartphones and Apple's iPhone.
While the DOJ sided with the search engine, Google's
bid hasn't gone uncontested. Microsoft, HP (NYSE:HPQ), Nokia, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) AT&T (NYSE:T)and
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) filed objections to the sale because they believe it
would give the winner an unfair competitive advantage over its rivals.
Microsoft, which claims to hold a perpetual license to use Nortel's
patents dating to 2006, said any existing agreements
should be transferred to any new owner of the
Rumors of possible bidders for Nortel's patents ignited shortly
after the networking giant filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. Nortel
had been selling off pieces of its company for the last few years.