The so-called Rockstar Consortium is the unlikely alliance of Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony – who bought a portfolio of more than 6,000 patents for 4.5 billion dollars. From Nortel, the bankrupt Canadian telecommunications company, during an asset sell-off in 2011. A bidding process that Google also took part in but ultimately failed to win.
Last week, the consortium filed eight lawsuits in US Federal Court, accusing Google of infringing on their patent rights. In addition to Google, the other named defendants in these cases are Samsung, LG Electronics, HTC, Huawei, Asustek, Pantech and ZTE Corp., which just happens to be essentially everyone who with a major commercial interest in the Android smartphone business. In addition to going after the makers of Android devices, there is a lawsuit suit against Google targeted advertising, which remains the company’s core business. Claiming that Google’s targeted advertising and AdWords system is infringing on patents issued to Nortel for an “associated search engine.”
What makes this case particularly interesting is the fact that Google was an unsuccessful bidder for the Nortel patent portfolio, bidding as much as $4.4 billion to obtain it at the time, before being outbid by Rockstar. The aggressive way in which Google pursued ownership of the patents at the time will make it very difficult for the tech heavyweight to argue in court now that the patents are of no value or that their own business practices are completely unrelated to them.
Perhaps most importantly, it appears that battle lines are being drawn between entire ecosystems and collectives of companies at the top of the tech world. Building sites and networks that are agnostic to one particular fiefdom of technology companies or another without running a foul of their constant litigation requires vigilance on the part of business owners, IT staff and administrators. As always, NationalNet is here to help.