Computer maker Apple has received clearance to compete against Google in an auction for the patent portfolio owned by bankrupt Nortel Networks.
According to Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal, Apple has received anti-trust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to bid on Nortel's patents. The regulatory clearance sets up a potential bidding war between two of the nation's most prominent technology companies.
The winning bidder could walk away with some 6,000 Nortel patents in a legal strategy that would position the patent owner to sell technology licensing rights as well challenge product infringements by competitors. Nortel specialized in telecommunications technology, including Voice over Internet Protocol, network management and data security.
Nortel, once one of the Triangle's biggest employers with 10,000 workers here, declared bankruptcy in January 2009 after a nearly a decade of financial setbacks and accounting scandals. The Canadian company, which today employs about 160 in Research Triangle Park, has sold off all major business divisions and corporate assets except its patent portfolio.
Google had initially offered $900 million for Nortel's patents, according to news reports, but last week Nortel said it has received significant eleventh-hour interest in its patent portfolio, suggesting that the technology auction could yield well over $1 billion in proceeds for creditors and bankruptcy lawyers.