Justice Department deepens an investigation whether the Nortel patent bid will be used against Android
We knew that the Department of Justice launched a probe into the Nortel patent soap opera three weeks ago, but since they let the bidding close Friday, we thought that it's a done deal. It turns out that DoJ notified the parties involved of the probe, but didn't want to be perceived as meddling in what was considered fair bidding among private companies.
The outcome, however, where a quickly thrown-together consortium wisely named Rockstar Bidco outbid Google's "stalking horse" initial sum of $900 million five times, has obviously not been to the Justice Department's antitrust mandate liking.
While it is true that Google stepped up its lobbying efforts and the amount of money it sets aside to be in good terms with Washington, it is also true that Rockstar Bidco, which paid the record $4.5 billion amount for Nortel's wireless patents, is also one unholy union of cutthroat competitors like Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Sony and others.
Most of those companies have one thing in common - they have a vested interest into slowing down the Android march for world domination as a mobile operating system. DoJ seems to be probing each of the parties involved further, and will reportedly try to make sure the acquired Nortel patents will be used as a defense mechanism against patent lawsuits, as opposed to piling up on the anti-Android litigation campaign that is in full swing by Apple and Microsoft, which are trying with various success to make Android handset makers like HTC pay license or royalty fees.
Despite the eventual federal help, Google is not sitting still, waiting to be slammed with further lawsuits that might deter handset manufacturers from using Android, or having to rework its mobile operating system in times when the most intense competition the mobile industry has ever seen is in full swing. Google bought more than a 1000 patents from IBM this month for undisclosed amount, in the hope some of them will help fend off the patent litigation onslaught.
source: WSJ (requires subscription)