A consortium uniting Apple, Inc. and Microsoft with other top players in the software, electronics and wireless handset industries outplayed Google in a bankruptcy court auction for Nortel’s patent portfolio, posting a winning offer of $4.5 billion for the trove of 6,000 patents that cover fourth-generation wireless, data networking, Internet, and semiconductor technologies. The consortium’s victory came as a major blow for Google, which had hoped to use the Nortel portfolio as a defense against the growing wave of patent infringement lawsuits that target Google’s Android smart phone operating platform. Google, which had posted the initial “stalking horse” bid of $900 million for the patents in question, bowed out of the contest once offers exceeded the $4.5 billion mark. In addition to Apple and Microsoft, members of the winning consortium included Sony, Research-In-Motion (RIM), EMC Corp. and Ericsson of Sweden. It remains unclear how control of the Nortel patents will be divided among the group’s members. Upon receipt of court approvals in the U.S. and Canada, the parties aim to close the deal in the third quarter. Noting that the patents cover “nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets,” Nortel chief strategy officer George Riedel remarked, “the size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world.” Calling the outcome “disappointing for anyone who believes that open innovation benefits users and promotes creativity and competition,” Google promised to “keep working to reduce the current flood of patent litigation that hurts both innovators and consumers.”