A recent business move by both Apple and Google toward purchasing a great deal of technology patents has alerted the attention of the Department of Justice. According to a recent article in the International Business Times by James Lee Phillips, the U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating possible antitrust issues with Apple and Google in this potential purchase.
The competitors are not planning to merge but each is interested in buying patents from Nortel Networks Corporation. Antitrust regulators with the Department of Justice are concerned that a purchase of the patents could stifle competition and create a monopoly if either of the companies were to win a bid for the patents.
The company has been around awhile and even has the original patent for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. According to Phillips, Nortel has been struggling as a company in the last decade after it made acquisitions that did not work out in the dot-com bubble. A 2007 SEC case was also brought against three executives. The company has been in bankruptcy since 2009 and may not recover.
Tech-giants Apple and Google are both interested in Internet patents held by Nortel, such as 3G and 4G wireless technology. Google and Apple both bid on thousands of patents during an auction related to the company’s bankruptcy. According to Phillips, the Department of Justice has been particularly investigating Apple because the company has been aggressively pursuing patents lately and filing cases against other companies (those it is in competition with and partners) accusing them of infringing on the company’s intellectual property rights.
DOJ Turns Anti-Trust Eye on Apple, Google (International Business Times)