U.S. antitrust enforcers have given Google the green light to pursue its US$900 million opening bid for high-tech patents being sold next week by Canadian telecommunications-equipment maker Nortel Networks, reports the “Wall Street Journal” (http://macte.ch/4UvrH), quoting “people familiar with the matter.” Apple has also shown interest in the patents.

After an antitrust review, the Justice Department concluded that Google’s potential ownership of the patents wouldn’t raise any major competitive concerns, these people said. The clearance “could give Google a leg-up against rivals in its bid for the patents, part of its effort to acquire an arsenal of patents that could help it ward off lawsuits by competitors,” according to the “Journal.”

Last year Nortel sold its optical networking and carrier ethernet business to Ciena for US$769 million and its wireless business to Ericsson for $1.3 billion. Soon it will sell off its patents as well, “among them some thought to be essential 4G wireless technologies like Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Service Architecture Evolution (SAE).

That IP has drawn a lot of interest from companies such as Apple, Research in Motion and Nokia, as well as Google. Nortel (http://www.nortel.com) was founded in 1895 as Northern Electric and Manufacturing, supplying telecommunications equipment for Canada’s fledgling telephone system. It grew to become, at one point, a global leader in delivering communications capabilities.

— Dennis Sellers