U.S. Antitrust Regulators Concerned Over Apple's Interest in Nortel Patents

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Last December, it was revealed that Apple was among the parties interested in bidding on a huge trove of patents from Nortel Networks that had been placed up for auction. While group of over 6,000 patents covers a wide variety of areas, Apple was thought to be primarily interested in those patents related to LTE and other mobile technologies.

Competition for the patents has been heating up, with Google having launched the first salvo with an opening bid of $900 million for the entire portfolio of patents. According to The Wall Street Journal, federal antitrust regulators had initially expressed concern over Google's bid, but have since had their concerns satisfied. They do, however, continue to have concerns about Apple should it decide to officially submit a bid for the patents.

The agency has greater concerns about another possible bidder, Apple Inc., which has often asserted intellectual property rights against other companies. Apple has been in talks with the Justice Department to address its concerns, those people said.

Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.

Regulators have expressed concern over such a significant batch of intellectually being used by acquirers attempting to consolidate control of critical technologies, thereby stifling innovation.

The official auction for the Nortel patents is scheduled for June 20th, with Google, Apple, and Research in Motion all reportedly interested in participating in the process.

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122 months ago

No legitimate right comes with anything any "responsibility" or exceptions...


I must seriously disagree with this comment. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. Let's take a look at some of what might be considered the most fundamental rights:

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Life: While this remains a debate in most places around the world, if someone egregiously abuses the responsibility of respecting other people's lives (i.e. kills a bunch of people, or maybe even just one person), there are plenty of places in the U.S. where they lose their right to life.

Liberty: This is a really easy one. Anyone who breaks the law and is sentenced to time in prison loses their right to liberty, for a period of time, at least.

Pursuit of Happiness: Here we get kind of fuzzy. Suppose I define the pursuit of happiness as the effort to sleep with as many women as I possibly can. I can keep that as a right, so long as I am responsible with how I exercise it. If I cross the line of forcing myself on a woman that doesn't want to sleep with me, then it no longer a right.

So, I have the right to

Life, so long as I am responsible with other people's lives

Liberty, so long as I use my liberty in a responsible way in my society

and the Pursuit of Happiness, so long as I pursue happiness in a way that is responsible to myself and others.

In short, you cannot fairly speak about rights and ignore responsibilities.

In the context of this discussion, Apple has the right to buy these patents, but the have the responsibility to use them in a way that meets with the legal and ethical expectations that our society has put on them.

Go look at Apples Law suits against HTC Nokia and Samsung. They all deal with Apple patents.


I'm not completely versed in the issues involved, but there may well be deeper issues than just Apple trying to slam the door on competition (an anti-trust behavior). Do we know, for example, whether HTC, Nokia and Samsung sought licensing terms from Apple, had reasonable terms offered and rejected them, etc.? Or, for that matter, if they unknowingly violated an Apple held patent, do we know that Apple's first move wasn't to approach them with terms for licensing the technology, which they then rejected?

Now, it may well be that Apple is being predatory in this case, and that they never sought a licensing solution to this situation, but I suspect that no one here really knows the answer to that question.
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123 months ago

I'd be more worried about Apple too. Google tend to be a little more open arms with this kind of thing.


For now, it can all change when the growth isn't big enough for investors and/or with others leading the company. Patents last to long, 2 or 10 years from now this can still go wrong with either company.
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123 months ago

Apple has a history of not letting other companies use the patents that could be another huge reason not to let them have them.


I disagree, Apple seems to only target those with clear infringements. I don't care who you are its obvious Samsung ripped of iOS. (Hence why my friends at Verizon call it the iSamsung).

Anyway Apple is not the worst offender out there: http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/21/this-title-is-patented-pay-me/ (http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/21/this-title-is-patented-pay-me/)
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123 months ago
Make sure your patents aren't too innovative and far-reaching, and that you don't have a lot of them. Otherwise you'll have to share. Allow others to infringe on them from time to time. Don't litigate because it means you're abusing your position.
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123 months ago

Isn't it great you have to explain the definition of patents, on a weekly basis?


A lot of people on this forum don't understand that business is a dog-eat-dog world. People say that Apple fans drink the "Kool-Aid." Yet, people on this forum seem to be drinking another type of "Kool-Aid"-that of Google's when they buy into their whole facade of "don't be evil." Google doesn't sue over patents and will never sue over patents because they don't care about them. Google is an advertising company. The more people using Google search, the better. In the grand scheme of things, the money lost on "patent infringements" is chump change to Google.

Oh, while we're at it, if Google is into "sharing," why don't they release their search algorithm? They're the ones who accused Microsoft of copying Google search results with Bing.
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123 months ago


(Especially when so much of other companies’ mobile “innovation” is just following Apple’s lead these days, and would not have happened without Apple doing it first.)

Most of Apple's "innovation" is just following what those before it did and improving on it. That's pretty much what the whole industry is - taking what does well before you (or sometimes not so well) and making it better.
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