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Apple, Microsoft-backed Rockstar Consortium Files a Lawsuit against Android Manufacturers

post Friday November 8, 2013

Tags: patent infringement, rockstar consortium, technology war

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The Rockstar Consortium group which purchased former Canadian company Nortel Networks patents for $4.5 billion has now pursued lawsuits against Google—the world’s largest search engine—alleging infringement of seven patents owned by the consortium. In addition, the consortium filed another suit against multiple Android manufacturers—Samsung, Huawei, HTC, LG, Pantech and ZTE—alleging violation of patents related to electronic packaging, graphical interfaces, mobile hotspot functionality etc.

Rockstar consortium is a collection of well-known technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony. With just a few dozen employees, Rockstar is hoping to convince more than 100 technology companies to pay it patent licensing fees for a huge array of products. Rockstar’s CEO, John Veschi, said: “Pretty much anyone out there is infringing”.

The lawsuit stems from over 6,000 patents acquired by Rockstar consortium from the bankrupt early mobile innovator—Nortel Networks. Rockstar consortium purchased patents of the defunct telecommunications company Nortel Networks in a 2011 bidding war with Google. Nortel Networks was unable to survive the dotcom bust but had an invaluable patent portfolio of 6,000 patents, mostly relating to wireless technologies. Nortel’s patent portfolio constituted an important edge for technology companies, especially given the growing mobile market and impending patent wars. Google started with a bid, but lost the battle. “Google placed an initial bid of $900 million for the patents-in-suit and the rest of the Nortel’s portfolio. Google subsequently increased its bid multiple times, ultimately bidding as high as $4.4 billion” the filing states. “That price was insufficient to win the auction, as a group led by the current shareholders of Rockstar consortium purchased the portfolio for $4.5 billion”.

According to Rockstar Consortium, Google and its associates have breached a total of seven patents. The content of these patents are mostly related to Google’s search advertising business. For example, their suit of appeals starts with infringement of US Patent No. 6,098,065, pertaining to an “associative search engine”. This engine, which sounds similar to Google’s Adwords program, associates advertising information in a user’s feed with specific search terms. Google currently earns $50 billion-plus annually based on technology that, on the surface, appears to infringe the patent.

Another suit—filed against Android hardware manufacturers—lists a variety of infringements ranging from electronic packaging to graphical interfaces. For example, the Samsung lawsuit cites seven patents that Rockstar consortium say Samsung infringes. They include Patent No. 6,765,591, on virtual private network technology, a user interface patent, and a seemingly impossibly broad U.S. Patent No. 5,838,551, which covers an “Electronic Package Carrying an Electronic Component and Assembly of Mother Board and Electronic Package”. The lawsuit against Samsung is extremely comprehensive, citing no fewer than 118 claims of infringement on Samsung’s part, and no fewer than 21 “prayers for relief”.

This is likely to be the definitive battle that shapes Android and the future of mobile technology in the U.S. and abroad. Google will likely strike back—every large enterprise has patents that just about every company could be conceivably infringing—and will likely enter a long and exhausting technology battle that advance the world of technology not a single bit.

Source: Forbes

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