U.S. Steps Up Probe of Nortel Patent Deal

The US Department of Justice is intensifying an investigation into whether tech giants including Apple, Microsoft and Research in Motion could use a recently acquired trove of patents to unfairly hobble competing smartphones using Google’s Android software, according to people familiar with the matter.

A consortium of six companies last month paid $4.5 billion to acquire a portfolio of 6,000 patents auctioned by the bankrupt Canadian telecom equipment maker Nortel Networks, thwarting Google’s interest. The final amount, five times Google’s original $900 million “stalking horse” bid, stunned observers and raised concerns about how the consortium intended to use them.

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