US DoJ Approves Rockstar Consortium’s Nortel Patent Grab

Apple, Microsoft and others now have the go-ahead to exploit Nortel patents

A consortium made up of Apple, RIM, Microsoft, Sony and Ericsson, has been given clearance to “consummate the acquisition” of approximately 4,000 Nortel patents.

Today’s announcement comes after the so called “Rockstar” group invested $4.5 billion in the portfolio last year and following the expiration of the US Department of Justice’s waiting period for review.

Competition concerns

Nortel filed for bankruptcy in January 2009 and its stockpile of networking, communications and internet technology patents was contested over in auction by Rockstar and Google. The latter had previously made a $900 million bid to secure the portfolio as a defensive measure for the Android platform.

The success at auction for Rockstar sparked the American Antitrust Institute into action and in August 2011 Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, accused Apple and Microsoft of plotting against the Android system. He argued that Apple and Microsoft were getting “into bed together” as part of a campaign against Google.

The green light effectively given by the passing of the DoJ’s waiting period comes after approvals for the acquisition from antitrust investigators and US courts last year, and means that the members of Rockstar will now be free to wield the portfolio as it sees fit.

“We are pleased to emerge from this review process, and are looking forward to working with technology related companies to provide them with access to Rockstar’s technology,” said John Veschi, chief executive officer of Rockstar, in a statement. “The entire industry has benefitted from Nortel’s groundbreaking innovations, and we are eager to work with them to establish licenses enabling the continued use of this technology.”