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It's on! High stakes, IP-Monopoly Game, pitting Apple against Google.
The Antitrust Division of the Justice Department has approved Apple's request to participate in an auction against Google for an estimated $900 million of intellectual property from bankrupt Nortel Networks Corp. While this ruling lets Apple in the door to the private auction, the Antitrust Division will continue to review any anticompetitive issue that may arise should Apple win.
Nortel, a Canadian phone-equipment maker, filed for bankruptcy in January 2009, and had previously agreed to sell almost 6,000 patents to Google for $9000 million -- unless a competitor bids more at a private auction scheduled for June 27. According to rules approved by U.S. Bankruptcy court, unless another company topped Google's bid by at least $29 million by June 13, the deal with Google would have been complete (pending regulatory review). However, in a statement issued on June 16, Nortel delayed the auction for a week, citing a "significant level of interest".
Microsoft, HP, and Nokia all objected to the sale to Google, but Nortel declined to say how many, if any, bidders had already offered to pay more than Google. It appears, at a minimum, it will come down to a bidding match between Apple and Google. Previous auctions for Nortel raised over $3 billion to pay Nortel creditors, and some auctions have lasted more than 24 hours with many rounds of intense bidding.
Whoever wins will gain control of a patent portfolio of technologies, including wireless video, that could prove extremely valuable for next generation iOS and Android devices.