Apple contributes half the cost of Nortel patents

Apple is contributing more than half the total $4.5 billion price tag for Nortel patents, with partners including Microsoft and Sony combined kicking in the rest.

Apple reported on Wednesday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it will contribute approximately $2.6 billion toward the cost of the Nortel patent acquisition.

After filing for bankruptcy protection in 2009, Nortel has been selling off pieces of its business. It recently auctioned off its portfolio of about 6,000 patents. A consortium that includes Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Research In Motion, EMC and Ericsson had the winning $4.5 billion bid. As Apple noted in its SEC filing, the offer is still subject to regulatory approval.

The patents are particularly valuable to companies that make mobile products that have become litigious in recent years as competition in the growing smartphone market heats up. The winning bid for the patents dwarfed an earlier $900 million offer from Google, which is under attack by many companies since the success of its Android OS.

While Apple already had a better patent position than Google, it may have been interested in a major ownership position in the Nortel patents in hopes of shoring up its defenses. Apple is involved in legal battles with a number of Android phone makers including Samsung, Motorola and HTC.

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