Device operating systems

Rockstar Patent Holders Sue Google & Friends

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.)

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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