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Microsoft-Backed Group Cleared To Make Money from Nortel Patents

A consortium of companies that includes Microsoft and Apple has been cleared to start receiving royalties from the assets it purchased last year from the former Nortel Networks Corp.

In a statement released Monday, Rockstar Consortium said the waiting period specified by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Nortel deal to be completed has expired.

"We are pleased to emerge from this review process, and are looking forward to working with technology related companies to provide them with access to Rockstar's technology," stated John Veschi, Rockstar's CEO. He formerly served as Nortel's chief intellectual property officer.

Rockstar, which consists of Microsoft, Apple, EMC, Research In Motion, Ericsson and Sony (each with different investment stakes) won the bid for Nortel's assets in late June 2011. Nortel was a pioneering Canadian telecom equipment company with a long history spanning about 116 years.

Google was the first company to offer a bid for Nortel's intellectual property. It is estimated that Google offered $900 million, but the company later backed away. Rockstar won the bid by putting up $4.5 billion for about 4,000 patents, the consortium claims. The intellectual property coverage represented by the acquisition includes communications, Internet and networking technologies.

At the time of the Nortel assets acquisition, Google complained that the winning bidder, Rockstar, would stifle "open innovation." Google subsequently announced the purchase of some patents from IBM in July 2011 and is currently awaiting judicial approvals to complete its purchase of Motorola Mobility. U.S. and European authorities already approved Google's Motorola Mobility bid.

It is thought that Google is attempting to bolster its patent portfolio as a legal strategy to resist patent litigation from Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. Apple and Microsoft allege intellectual property violations over the use of the Android mobile operating system, which Google helped to foster. Oracle is suing Google over Java intellectual property violation claims.

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About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.