Apple to Enter Nortel’s Auction of Over 5000 Wireless Patents

Over the last couple of years, Nortel has been selling off its wireless network business. Though most of their assets have gone to Sweden-based Ericsson, a treasure chest of the company’s wireless patents are slated to be auctioned off to the highest bidder in a few weeks.

The sell-off was actually scheduled for earlier this month, but has since been delayed due to significant interest from major tech companies. Intel, RIM and yes — even Apple, have been pegged as participants in the June 27th bidding…

Nortel’s library of over 5,000 patents is believed to be worth more than $1 billion dollars. Among the company’s prized IP (intelectual property) portfolio are several patents relating to the up-and-coming LTE technology. Given that most carriers have adopted Long Term Evolution as their 4G platform, it’s easy to see why these patents are so valuable to cell phone makers.

After RIM’s recent financial struggles, I don’t see them being able to match wallets with the big dogs. Google, for example, has already placed a staggering bid of $900 million dollars for the wireless patents. Apple certainly has deep enough pockets to contest the offer, but the question is do they want to?

As 9to5Mac points out, you don’t have to look any further than the recent Apple-Nokia case to see the importance of these legal documents to the folks in Cupertino. The Nokia settlement is believed to have cost Steve Jobs and company in upwards of $600 million dollars.

I’m not going to go off on a cliche rant about how broken the patent system is, but I will admit how ridiculous it is that companies are bidding hundreds of millions of dollars on pieces of paper. That being said, it’ll be interesting to see who wins the Nortel IP, and what role it plays in the future of the industry.

What do you think?