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Rockstar Patent Holders Sue Google & Friends

Sarah Thomas
11/1/2013
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Nearly two years after acquiring bankrupt Nortel's treasure trove of wireless patents, the Rockstar group is making its move, filing seven lawsuits against Google and its partners in a federal court in the Eastern District of Texas on Friday.

The Rockstar consortium, made up of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), BlackBerry (formerly RIM), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), acquired 4,000 patents from Nortel in 2011, spanning all ranges of 4G wireless technology, for $4.5 billion. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) also attempted to the buy the valuable patents, but ultimately was outbid. (See DoJ OK's $4.5B Nortel Patent Sale and Apple, Google Seek Patent Shields.)

So far, the consortium has yet to make use of what could be a powerful weapon. But today the group filed suit against Google and seven of its handset partners, claiming its Android operating system violates seven of its patents, all related to its "Associative Search Engine" patent that produces search-related advertisements.

The other companies in the suit are AsusTek Computer Inc. , High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , Pantech Co. Ltd. , Samsung Corp. , and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763).

Why this matters
This day was inevitable since Rockstar beat out Google in acquiring Nortel's patents. But while the mobile patent wars have been going on for years now, this case could take them to an entirely new level, affecting the entire Android ecosystem and the licensing fees they have to pay.

Google has its own patents trove as well, including those it acquired with Motorola Mobility, so it could be another long, drawn-out court case. (See Google Reveals Moto's Patent Price.)

Related posts:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/2/2013 | 10:00:16 AM
Re: Search? Really?
Liz,

 

You have to account for whether the patent file granted in 97 is not obliterated by the potential prior art from 93.  Just because a patent is filed and granted does not make it enforceable.  The truth is that until it is litigated in courts the patent is not considered truth.

So what it will actually come down to first is can Google's Lawyers find prior art to the patent.  Not just from the overview but the actual claims.  One of the problems with the patent is the claim is huge and not limited to Internet searches but theoretically any search.  That means that pretty much all Fuzzy Logic research prior to 97 is in play as well.

So, there is a LONG way to go.

seven

 
victorblake
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victorblake,
User Rank: Lightning
11/1/2013 | 3:19:28 PM
Re: Search? Really?
First, they all have search functionality included in their products. Second, whether or not their service is marketed or sold the same way as the infrining (or alleged infringing party) is not relevant. Patents (utility patents not design patents) describe how it works, not how it is sold or paid for. Apple doesn't sell ads to pay for its search, it sells content and yes -- it has search on itunes to help you find content.

 

Furthermore there is no requirement to sell an identical product. And I disagree that they are trolls. These companies produce real products that the majority of us use (cell phones). They have legitimate concerns with competitors look google who sell compeeting software (also on cell phones as it turns out -- although not necessary).


As a previous poster pointed out joint offense or defense is not the same as a troll seeking licensing fees.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/1/2013 | 3:14:39 PM
Re: Search? Really?
Except Nortel filed the patent in 1997!  http://www.patents.com/us-6098065.html

The patent was granted on August 1, 2000.

 

The other Nortel patent was filed on 7/8/1999, granted on 6/26/2007  http://www.patents.com/us-7236969.html

So it will come down to what the Google founders did way back in 1997 most likely!  Who knows others may join is as well as so many companies were competing in search back then!  No wonder it was such a huge bidding war for those patents.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/1/2013 | 3:00:53 PM
Re: Search? Really?
Whose foot is in which shoe doesn't really matter -- this is purely and simply a lawyer-led money grab, with most of the money being grabbed by the lawyers. After all the (probably years) of litigation, the end result may be that an Android phone may cost a little more -- if they are still being made by the time this resolves.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
11/1/2013 | 2:35:34 PM
Re: Search? Really?
Thanks, seven. :) Point being, Google is deeper entrenched in it than the Rockstar companies.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/1/2013 | 2:32:53 PM
Re: Search? Really?
Because they either have their own search, make handsets, build operating systems, etc. they stand to lose profits if somebody else uses "their" IP without paying for it.  You can bet that they evaluated all that they had to gain before they joined each other in the buyout.  If the shoe was on the other foot, Google would do the same.  To me, regular trolls don't build or sell anything, they only sue for licenses and royalties.
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/1/2013 | 2:32:30 PM
Re: Search? Really?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_search_engine

 

seven

 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
11/1/2013 | 2:25:38 PM
Re: Search? Really?
But, did Apple? Ericsson? RIM?
victorblake
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victorblake,
User Rank: Lightning
11/1/2013 | 2:24:07 PM
Re: Search? Really?
Although I have no love lost on Nortel and it's IPR, let's be clear here: google didn't invent search. It was hardly the first. My how Internet memories are short!!

 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/1/2013 | 2:22:05 PM
Re: Search? Really?
Hi, Liz -- What does this consortium have to lose other than the money they pooled to buy someone else's IP?
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