A consortium of companies including Apple won the auction for Nortel's patents; however, Apple originally went into the auction alone. Only after Rockstar Bidco (RIM, EMC, Ericsson, Sony, Microsoft) dropped out of the bidding did Apple form a partnership to stake the group, according to TechCrunch.
By the fifth round of bidding, it was Rockstar Bidco that decided not to submit a bid. This brought the group of bidders down to three: Google, Apple, and Intel. Then something really interesting happened.
Following Rockstar's seeming exit, Apple asked Nortel for permission to talk to the group about a possible partnership. This request was granted. Following these discussions, Apple decided they wanted to partner with Rockstar and adopt their name and transaction structure. Essentially, Apple decided to stake the Rockstar group in this high-stakes poker game.
Eventually, Intel dropped out and partnered with Google; however, in the 19th round Apple's group was able to win with a bid of $4.5 billion.
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