Nortel Patent Auction

US Justice Department Investigating Nortel Patent Auction Winners

Nortel Patent AuctionMuch was made of Rockstar Bidco beating Google in the $4.5 billion auction for Nortel’s patent portfolio, but now the US Justice Department is intensifying investigating how Apple, Microsoft, RIM, and others plan to use those patents against Google and companies producing Android OS smart devices according to WSJ.

It is widely believed that Google needed to win the Nortel patent auction in order to maintain its own armoury of patents with which it can negotiate compromises with companies that claim to own patents over some parts of Android. Currently some Android manufacturers such as HTC are rumoured to be paying fees to Microsoft on each phone sold in order to avoid expensive patent litigation over Android – but such deals could be avoided if Google held its own patent armoury. With the Nortel patents in the hands of its main competitors (most notably Apple and RIM), Android manufacturers may be forced into further “licensing” agreements – making Android, a supposedly free and open source operating system, actually cost more than Windows Phone 7 or WebOS per device – forcing companies away from the popular OS, an issue the DOJ appear to be investigating.

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