Nortel’s $4.5 Billion Patent Sale Approved As U.S. Regulators Mull Options

One hurdle faced by the six tech companies hoping to acquire 6,000 mobile patents from bankrupt Nortel Networks has been cleared, as courts in both the U.S. and Canada have signed off on the $4.5 billion deal involving Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), and Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM). Federal regulators in the U.S. may get their own shot at reviewing the deal, however.

A Monday morning hearing concluded with court documents approving the sale of the patents to the Rockstar Bidco group, which includes the three aforementioned companies as well as Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC), EMC, and Sony (NYSE: SNE). The auction is a huge win for Nortel’s creditors, and a lawyer for Nortel called the auction “record breaking in terms of this case and in the patent industry generally,” according to a report from Reuters.

But while bankruptcy court approval was necessary, U.S. regulators may be looking into the auction results and could try to impose new conditions or change certain part of the deal, as was reported by The Washington Post over the weekend. The big concern is that the six companies effectively banded together to deny Google (NSDQ: GOOG) a chance at the mobile patents it so desperately needed to protect Android and its partners against a mountain of lawsuits.