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Apple, Microsoft group's $4.5-billion bid on Nortel patents approved by courts

July 11, 2011 |  1:53 pm

Nortel

U.S. and Canadian judges in a bankruptcy court hearing approved the $4.5-billion purchase of more than 6,000 of Nortel's mobile tech patents to a group of buyers that includes Apple, Microsoft, Sony and three other companies Monday.

The clearance of the patent sell-off took place in a Delaware Bankruptcy Court hearing for Toronto-based Notrel Networks, according to a report from Reuters. The patents covered technologies used in phones and tablet computers, wireless 4G data transferring, data networking, optical technologies, voice, Internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patents many consider to be crucially important to the future of mobile computing.

The group that now owns the bundle of patents -- made up of Apple, Microsoft, Sony, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, EMC and Ericsson -- placed the winning bid after a 19-round auction. The biggest rival bidding on the patents was Google, but Intel placed bids as well.

Lisa Schweitzer, a lawyer representing Nortel in its bankruptcy process, said in court that the sale was "record breaking in terms of this case and in the patent industry generally," according to Reuters.

The purchase beefs up the patent portfolios of the winners and could put Google in a tough spot with its Android operating system.

Google is known for having one of the weaker patent portfolios in the mobile industry. That has left many competitors -- including Oracle and Microsoft -- seeking payments from the search giant over Android.

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Apple, Microsoft and four others team-up to buy Nortel patents for $4.5 billion

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A man walks past a Nortel sign at the company's office tower in Toronto in February 2009. Credit: Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

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