A Foolish Week of Telecom

The biggest news of the week has to be the confirmation of Sprint Nextel's (NYSE: S  ) buyout proposal of Clearwire (UNKNOWN: CLWR.DL  ) . Sprint will pay $2.2 billion for the shares it does not already control. That comes out to $2.97 a share.

But it ain't over 'til it's over. Even though the merger has been unanimously approved by both companies' boards of directors, there has been some shareholder opposition. The value of Clearwire's spectrum, they feel, is worth much more than what Sprint is paying.

 In case the deal falls apart, Clearwire will get $120 million from Sprint and a $100 million prepayment for LTE services to be provided in the future.

Patents, of course
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) received two setbacks this week in its ongoing battle with Samsung. The United States Patent and Trademark Office, in a First Office Action ruling, said all of Apple's 21 claims from one of its key patents were invalid. This particular patent involved the pinch-to-zoom feature.

That was just a tentative ruling, but it will make it even harder to hold onto the $1.05 billion Samsung was told to give Apple in a California court ruling last summer. That was the third tentative ruling since the trial that went against the Apple's patent claims.

That other piece of bad news for Apple came when it lost in its attempt to ban sales of Samsung smartphones in the U.S. "The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple's patents," ruled Judge Lucy Koh.

A detente?
Samsung seems to be taking the high road in its legal battles with Apple -- at least in Europe. The Korean electronics giant has dropped lawsuits against Apple in several European markets. Samsung said it wants any competition between the two companies to be decided in the marketplace, stating, "In this spirit, Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice."

Remember Apple's faux pas in releasing its flawed Maps app along with its iPhone 5? More than 10 million users who installed Apple's iOS 6 in their mobile devices downloaded Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) replacement mapping app in the first two days of its release.

Ironically, this new mapping app from Google is said to be even better than what was included in earlier versions of the iPhone and what is now installed on Android phones.

Text messaging: a ripoff in Spain
The Commission National de la Competencia, Spain's antitrust regulator, accused that country's three largest mobile operators of committing an "exploitative abuse of dominant position" by overcharging for their short message services, SMS (or as most know it, text messaging).

Telefonica (NYSE: TEF  ) , Vodafone (NASDAQ: VOD  ) , and France Telecom's (NYSE: ORAN  ) Orange unit were fined $159 million for their transgressions of Spain's Competition Act. The overcharging occurred from 2000 to 2009, a time when SMS operations were not regulated.

Research in plunging profits
The maker of the increasingly unpopular BlackBerry smartphones Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) reported that third-quarter revenue fell 47% to $2.7 billion from the same quarter last year. Net profit really stepped off the cliff: only $14 million, down from $265 million in last year's third quarter.

Those numbers just place more emphasis on RIM's expected fourth quarter global launch of its newest smartphone, one which will run BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system. If BlackBerry 10 can't keep RIM's customers from jumping ship -- and attract new users -- there may not be much hope of the company just fading away. No pressure, BB10.

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

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