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RIM to outbid Google for Nortel patents?

Research in Motion is considering whether to make a play for Nortel's wireless-patent portfolio, according to a report. Google has already bid $900 million.

RIM is reportedly considering whether to put an offer on the wireless-patent portfolio of bankrupt Nortel Networks.

According to a Bloomberg report today, RIM is considering putting its own bid on the 6,000 wireless patents belonging to fellow Canadian company Nortel. RIM may also join a larger group planning to make a bid. This group is a collection of handset makers and other tech companies, according to Bloomberg's unnamed sources.

The patent portfolio up for grabs is broad, relating to wireless, 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, service providers, and semiconductors. Two weeks ago, Google bid $900 million in cash in what's known as a "stalking-horse bid," which effectively sets the minimum that other bidders like RIM would have to exceed.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2009, and has a huge patent porfolio calculated to be worth more than $1 billion collectively. The auction for Nortel's IP assets began more than a year ago, and in addition to Google and now potentially RIM, Apple was said to be considering a bid late last year.

Besides being a potential source of revenue, acquiring patents has become necessary to fend of competitors in the wireless industry. Almost every major player in the mobile world is embroiled in one patent-related lawsuit or another right now. Just in the past year, Microsoft, Motorola, HTC, Apple, Google, and Nokia have sued or are being sued over some mobile software or smartphone intellectual property.