Federal antitrust regulators are investigating whether the bidders for Nortel's wireless patents would hamper competition by consolidating control of the valuable technologies, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation reportedly includes Google, which placed the first bid on the patents, and Apple, which is also rumored to be interested in acquiring the slate of patents.
The probe, which comes amid a series of high-profile lawsuits over patent infringement, is said to look into whether tech companies are using patents to suppress competition.
Apple, Google and the DOJ could not be immediately reached for comment.
Google placed a $900 million stalking horse bid on the patents in April. No other companies have officially announced their participation in the sale, but Nortel said "several interested companies and consortia from around the world" are participating in the auction.
The companies are bidding on Nortel's remaining 6,000 patents and patent applications, which cover data networking, optical, voice, Internet, service providers, semiconductors, LTE and other wireless technologies.