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Apple gets FTC approval to bid on Nortel mobile patents

June 23, 2011 |  7:23 pm


Apple Inc. has been given clearance by the Federal Trade Commission to bid on more than 6,000 patents belonging to the bankrupt Nortel Networks Corp. that could be crucial to the future of smartphones and tablets.

The FTC announced Thursday that it and the U.S. Justice Department had given Apple antitrust approval ahead of the normal 30-day waiting period that the Hart–Scott–Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act calls for in the case of such potential purchases.

The Nortel patents will be made available for auction Monday. Google, Apple's smartphone and tablet rival, which makes the hugely popular Android operating system, will also be bidding on the patents, which cover a wide range of technologies used in mobile phones, tablet computers, cellular infrastructure, online search and even social networking.

Google has made a $900-million bid for the patents -- but that will be merely a starting point for the auction, which is seen as vital for the tech and telecommunications industry, as well as the Web search giant, which has a thinner patent collection than its competitors.

Google's weaker patent portfolio has left the Android maker vulnerable to suits over the operating system; some of which it has lost and others which are ongoing.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, waves to the audience before unveiling the iCloud storage system at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 6, 2011. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg