Apple and Google are reportedly among the bidders lining up for bankrupt Nortel's patents and intellectual property, sales that could generate $1 billion for Nortel's creditors.

According to a report in Reuters, Apple and Google are interested in some of the 4,000 Nortel patents currently up for bid. Nokia is also interested, according to Reuters.

While Apple and Google are among the leaders in smartphones, they are relative newcomers to the wireless industry compared to Nokia. Acquisition of some patents could "change the balance of power" among mobile operators, the news service reports.

Reuters attributed its information to unidentified sources.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy last year and sold off virtually all of its product assets to former rivals when its plan to restructure under Chapter 11 failed. Ericsson bought most of Nortel's North American wireless operations, its multiservice switch business and a joint venture with Korean electronics titan LG. Ciena bought its optical networking and Carrier Ethernet business, Avaya acquired its enterprise operations and GENBAND purchased its carrier VoIP business.

The company's patent and intellectual property trove is among the last pieces of Nortel to be sold.

Nortel has grouped the 4,000 patents into six "buckets," each representing a particular technology-- wireless handsets and infrastructure, optical and data networking, Internet, Internet advertising, voice and personal computers. The bids for these patents are currently sealed, according to the Reuters report, and Nortel is expected to sell them off in the coming weeks.

The wireless patents will draw the most interest and activity, Reuters reports. Research In Motion and Motorola are also reported to be bidding.

The auction has been underway for seven months, according to the Reuters report.

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