Apple, Microsoft bid for Nortel patents now under antitrust investigation

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With news that six of Google’s rivals – including Apple, Microsoft and RIM – combined forces to prevent the company from aquiring over 6,000 patents from the now-collapsed Nortel Networks, antitrust investigators are examining if the deal could make it unfair for Google and could stifle Android’s growth, according to the Washingon Post.

Google paid only $900 million for the patents, while this company called Rockstar Bidco – which now turns out to be a coaltion of rivals, put in a bid of $4.5 billion.

“Why is the portfolio worth five times more to this group collectively than it is to Google?” said Robert Skitol, an antitrust lawyer, told the Washington Post.

“Why are three horizontal competitors being allowed to collaborate and cooperate and join hands together in this, rather than competing against each other?”

But why is are these patents so important? Well, Nortel’s large patent portfolio largely relates to the internet and mobile/wireless communications – including 3G and 4G (specifically, LTE). And of course, with these big companies with their own patent portfolios, these will certainly give them a big boost in order to sue its rivals over patent infringement. The mobile industry has seen this explode over recent years – such as the Nokia vs Apple, HTC vs Apple, Samsung vs Apple and Motorola vs Apple. (See a common link?)

In addition, Google is facing a lawsuit from Oracle over alleged infringements of Orcale’s Java patents – recently acquired from Sun Microsystems.