Apple has reportedly been given approval by US regulators to bid for a much sought-after block of patents belonging to telecoms hardware maker Nortel, in a move that could spark a fierce bidding war with Google.
Several reports indicate the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has given the antitrust approval to Apple ahead of the auction process set to begin on 27 June, a week later than originally planned due to "the significant level of interest" in the patents.
Google is believed to have been given the regulatory green light last week and has already put in a bid of $900m for the stash of 6,000 patents.
The patents include licensing for wireless, LTE, networking, optical, service provider and semiconductor technology portfolios, among others.
Google has previously stated that it wants the patents to "create a disincentive for others to sue Google", and to help the open source community innovate on its Android and Chrome platforms.
Patent expert Florian Mueller argued that the decision by regulators on Wednesday effectively now creates a level playing field between Apple and Google.
"As a result, the final price for this patent portfolio could be even higher than most experts thought after Google's $900m pre-auction bid became known," he told V3.co.uk.
"Those two bidders may be the most important ones not only because of their deep pockets but also because, for strategic reasons, neither of them wants the other to snatch up those patents."
Other players could also get involved, with Nokia and Research In Motion among the candidates to join the race for the patents.
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