Courts OK Apple group's $4.5 billion Nortel patent buyout

U.S. and Canadian courts have approved the sale of thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel Networks to a consortium including Apple and Microsoft for about $4.5 billion.

The purchasing group, which also included EMC, Ericsson, Research In Motion and Sony, won an auction for the patents on June 30. On Monday, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved the deal at a joint hearing. Nortel is based in Mississauga, Ontario.

The portfolio includes more than 6,000 patents and patent applications, including ones covering data networking, wireless, optical, voice, semiconductor and service-provider technologies. Each company in the consortium contributed to the $4.5 billion cash bid.

Google had hoped to buy the portfolio, making a $900 million “stalking horse” bid in April that set the minimum asking price in a multi-day auction. Google said it was bidding for the patents to discourage other companies from suing Google and to benefit the open-source community. The company condemned the June 30 deal with the consortium, saying it was disappointing to anyone who values open innovation.

Nortel, once a major supplier of enterprise voice and data networks and wireline and mobile carrier infrastructure, declared bankruptcy in 2009. Since that time, its business units and intellectual property have been sold off in parts.

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