Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericsson and Sony Get DoJ Approval

StarThe Rockstar Consortium (Rockstar) made up of Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion (RIM), Ericsson and Sony received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to acquire a "substantial majority" of a portfolio of patents owned by Nortel Networks. The portfolio includes a variety of Internet technologies, networking, wireless 4G, and voice communications -- about 4,000 patents.

Last summer the consortium invested $4.5 billion to acquire through an auction Nortel's portfolio from the bankruptcy estate. What effect will the sale have on the online advertising industry after the consortium continues with plans to pursue licensing agreements with companies that use its intellectual property?

Nortel had invested billions of dollars during the more than 100 years it took to develop the portfolio. The company filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. Now the patents and applications remain as assets -- and the consortium, made up of powerful players, sits behind an empty Web site.

The U.S. counts approved the acquisition in July 2011, and a month earlier, antitrust regulators. Now the DoJ's waiting period for review of the patent purchase has expired. It will be interesting to see how the group pursues restitution for license agreements -- and how Google responds with the acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

Google opened the bidding at $900 million in April 2011, followed by bids from Apple and Intel. The three companies, relative newcomers to mobile at the time, had the foresight to see the boom in mobile.

The patents became the last major assets sold by Nortel Networks -- once an important Canadian telecommunications technology company, and all-consuming rival to companies like PairGain Technologies, which ADC Telecommunications acquired in 2000.

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