Apple-backed patent consortium sues Google, major Android manufacturers

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A patent holding company backed by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony, and Ericsson has filed the first round of lawsuits based on patents the group won at auction from seminal telecom company Nortel.

Rockstar
A Rockstar engineer disassembles devices to look for patent infringements | Source: Rockstar via Wired


The company, Rockstar Consortium, on Thursday filed eight patent infringement suits in the Eastern District of Texas against Google, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, LG, HTC, Pantech, and Asus, according to FOSS Patents. The list of manufacturers represents every major Android OEM apart from Sony, which is a part owner of Rockstar.

AdWords under attack

The case against Google is based on a family of patents covering an "Associative Search Engine," and more specifically contextual advertising within search results, the first of which was filed in 1997 -- the year before Google's inception.

Rockstar alleges in its complaint that Google "has infringed and continues to infringe" seven patents related to "matching search terms with relevant advertising and/or information based on those search terms and other user data." The suit explicitly cites Google's AdWords bid-based targeted advertising system, which is at the heart of Google's search business model and represents the vast majority of the company's corporate revenues.
Rockstar is attacking the source of 98% of Google's revenue
When the patents went up for auction in 2011 following Nortel's bankruptcy, Google was among the initial bidders, winning the stalking horse bid with a $900 million offer. The company eventually bowed out of the race for the treasure trove of intellectual property --?which also includes important patents on 3G and LTE wireless networking --?at $4.4 billion, ceding the portfolio to Rockstar and its $4.5 billion bid.

Google's active participation in the auction is held up as evidence of the patents' applicability to Google's operations, with the complaint saying that "despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe the patents-in-suit."

More trouble for Android OEMs

The manufacturer lawsuits allege infringements against a different set of Nortel patents, ranging from a patent on an "electronic package carrying an electronic component and assembly of mother board and electronic package" to one covering "call trace on a packet switched network."
The lawsuits target only Android devices
According to the complaints --?which FOSS Patents notes are identical in each case --?the manufacturers are accused of direct and indirect infringement due to "one or more of making, using, selling and offering to sell...certain mobile communication devices having a version (or an adaption thereof) of Android operating system." This means Rockstar is not asserting the patents against devices from those manufacturers running Windows Phone, likely thanks to Microsoft's position as a part owner of Rockstar.

Rockstar is seeking permanent injunctions and damages in the cases, though it is still possible that the threat of going to trial against such a deep pool of intellectual property will drive the manufacturers to settle out of court and begin paying licensing fees.

Patent license fees have fast become just another cost of doing business for Android manufacturers, with more than twenty major licensing deals announced in the last few years. It is widely believed that thanks to the agreements, Microsoft makes more money each year from Android than Google does.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 166
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,642member
    A patent holding company backed by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony, EMC, and Ericsson...

    EMC has chosen to disassociate themselves from Rockstar, so no longer involved.
  • Reply 2 of 166

    That image caption… Wait, really? I love it.

     

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

    EMC has chosen to disassociate themselves from Rockstar.

     

    Just as Google has chosen to disassociate itself from its purchase, Motorola?

  • Reply 3 of 166
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,642member
    That image caption… Wait, really? I love it.


    Just as Google has chosen to disassociate itself from its purchase, Motorola?

    No actually quite different. :err:
  • Reply 4 of 166
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

    No actually quite different. image

     

    Ah, so where Google is fully responsible for all actions taken by Motorola, EMC is no longer responsible for the actions taken by the Rockstar group. I see.

  • Reply 5 of 166
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,642member
    Ah, so where Google is fully responsible for all actions taken by Motorola, EMC is no longer responsible for the actions taken by the Rockstar group. I see.

    Huh? You've seriously confused things TS. While EMC was one of the original group of bidders in the Rockstar Bidco group they decided it was not in their interests to be involved with the subsequent spin-off of Rockstar Consortium, so this would have zero to do with EMC. They apparently wanted no part in it.
  • Reply 6 of 166
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,774member
    Clearly this is a swipe at Android. Google shouldve been doing what FF is honestly.
  • Reply 7 of 166
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    So isn't Rockstar just another East Texas patent troll?

  • Reply 8 of 166
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

    Huh?

     

    Don’t play dumb.

  • Reply 9 of 166
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,642member
    Don’t play dumb.

    Research a bit before casting aspersions TS. You'd realize right away why what you said made no sense.
  • Reply 10 of 166
    This is interesting from several angles.

    (1) I had no idea that the patents in this portfolio included something that struck at the root of Google's profit source. This means Microsoft;s Bing™ may have a chance moving forward.

    (2) The cost of giving away Android has just jumped for Google. This impending eventuality may be why Google is downplaying Android and moving their focus to Chrome. I'm not sure that will help all that much, but I can see manufacturers giving up on Android because it's a tainted ingredient to their phone business model. Again, this may play to Microsoft's benefit with licensing their WinPhone 8 OS.

    Finally, with Apple recent patent "win" on touch gesturing, Android's days may be numbered as a touch interface device OS. Jobs wins all the Android marbles.
  • Reply 11 of 166
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post



    This is interesting from several angles.



    (1) I had no idea that the patents in this portfolio included something that struck at the root of Google's profit source. This means Microsoft;s Bing™ may have a chance moving forward.



    (2) The cost of giving away Android has just jumped for Google. This impending eventuality may be why Google is downplaying Android and moving their focus to Chrome. I'm not sure that will help all that much, but I can see manufacturers giving up on Android because it's a tainted ingredient to their phone business model. Again, this may play to Microsoft's benefit with licensing their WinPhone 8 OS.



    Finally, with Apple recent patent "win" on touch gesturing, Android's days may be numbered as a touch interface device OS. Jobs wins all the Android marbles.

    I bet that nothing even remotely close to this will matter, especially the last part.

    Actually, it's laughable to even think that.

  • Reply 12 of 166
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

    Just as Google has chosen to disassociate itself from its purchase, Motorola?


     

    What a bizarre link to try and make.  No, nothing like that, EMC simply aren't involved with Rockstar Consortium any more.  What are you trying to allude to, some kind of wrongdoing on EMC's part?

  • Reply 13 of 166
    Go Rockstar! If this works out for Rockstar then Google is going to have a major problem.
  • Reply 14 of 166
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

    Research a bit before casting aspersions TS. You'd realize right away why what you said made no sense.

     

    Original statement: Rockstar includes EMC.

    Correction: Rockstar does not include EMC.

    Addendum: EMC now relates to Rockstar in the same way Google is pretending Motorola relates to them.

     

    Geezaloo.

     

    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

    What are you trying to allude to, some kind of wrongdoing on EMC's part?

     

    Close! 50/50 shot; I suppose it’s not too bad a guess.

  • Reply 15 of 166
    Could someone explain how all of these types of cases seems to always end up in the Eastern Texas court? I wasn't aware that companies could choose where to have their cases heard.
  • Reply 16 of 166
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,642member
    Original statement: Rockstar includes EMC.
    <strong style="font-style:normal;line-height:1.4em;">Correction:</strong>
    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Rockstar does not include EMC.</span>

    Rockstar Consortium never included EMC. Google plainly owns MM. Not sure how you find the two things related. The mind works in mysterious ways TS. :smokey:

    EDIT: Link to excellent Rockstar article from last year at IAM:
    http://www.iam-magazine.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=96bb746a-b0c9-4cca-9e06-b2129be3d054
  • Reply 17 of 166
    Even though Rockstar could not be sued, it is interesting the timing of this lawsuit.

    The lawsuit comes after Apple having beaten back SEP-based lawsuits from Google's Motorola and Samsung.

    With Apple's touch-based patents affirmed valid, this fight just might become a two-pronged attack using non-SEPs, which gives Apple and hopefully RockStar an advantage that cannot be overcome.
  • Reply 18 of 166
    Google or Samsung needs to buy blackberry right now I mean now now now
  • Reply 19 of 166
    Wow, Jobs wasn't kidding when he said he was going "thermonuclear" on them.
  • Reply 20 of 166
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by initiator View Post



    Could someone explain how all of these types of cases seems to always end up in the Eastern Texas court? I wasn't aware that companies could choose where to have their cases heard.

    Because Texas is harsh. There's a reason the saying goes, "Don't mess with Texas" They don't play over there.

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