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Regulators worried about Apple's interest in Nortel patents

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On June 20th, Canadian telecommunications equipment manufacturer Nortel will be auctioning off over 6,000 patents in order to restructure its debt and pay off financial obligations. Last December we reported that among the companies interested in the patents are Google, Research in Motion, and Apple. Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US Department of Justice has concerns over Apple acquiring Nortel's patents.

The Journal states that at first the DOJ was concerned about Google, but the Internet giant worked with the department to address any concerns. It then bid US$900 million for the patent portfolio. With the Google concerns addressed, the DOJ has turned its eyes to Apple. According to the Journal, the DOJ "has greater concerns about Apple" because of the way the company "has often tangled with rivals in patent suits." However, the Journal also reports that Apple "has been in talks with the Justice Department to address its concerns" before the June 20th auction.

Patents have obviously become a hot issue in the smartphone market and companies that own the most could in theory stifle the innovation of other companies by not allowing them to license the patents or accusing them of patent violations for similar technologies. However, owning a trove of patents could also help your company from getting its products ripped off, as Apple is alleging Samsung has done.

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