WILMINGTON, Del. - U.S. and Canadian judges have approved a US$4.5 billion cash bid from a consortium that includes smartphone makers Apple and Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) for patents held by bankrupt telecom-equipment maker Nortel.

The judges approved the results of Nortel's patent auction at a joint hearing, just over a week after the consortium offered five times more than Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq:GOOG) initial bid of $900 million for some 6,000 patents and patent applications.

Phones running Google's Android system compete with Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq:AAPL) iPhone and Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry devices.

The patents represent the last of Nortel's major assets and cover a variety of technologies, including wireless and data networking.

Nortel Networks Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 and has been selling off its operations bit by bit since then.