Google files lawsuit to fight off patent consortium that includes Microsoft

After failing to purchase the patents previously owned by the now defunct Nortel in 2012, Google is going after the large group of companies that currently holds those rights. The company filed a lawsuit on Monday, claiming that the Rockstar patent consortium has "placed a cloud on Google's Android platform" with their ownership and enforcement of their properties.

According to GigaOM, Google feels that the Rockstar group, which includes Microsoft, Apple and BlackBerry, is using its over 4,000 patents to unfairly threaten mobile device makers that use the Android OS. Google seems to be particularly concerned about the threat against its own Nexus devices, and wants the court to rule that those products don't violate seven of Rockstar's patents.

Google tried and failed to purchase the Nortel patents, but the Rockstar group ended up as the winner after paying $4.5 billion for the rights. They cover a wide range of technology products and software rights, including "wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, internet, service provider, semiconductors" and more. Earlier this year, Rockstar filed lawsuits against Google and a number of its third party Android partners, claiming that those companies had used the consortium's patents related to display advertisements, messaging and more.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Rockstar was trying to sell off some of its many patents in a further attempt to make back the massive amount of money it paid for the Nortel assets.

Source: GigaOM | Tablet with gavel image via Shutterstock

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44 Comments

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Didn't they offer Google to be part of this consortium buying all the nortell patents?
As far as i'm aware they declined this offer and wanted to get all these patents for themselves.
Seems to me they gambled, lost and are now acting like a crybaby.

Stoffel said,
Didn't they offer Google to be part of this consortium buying all the nortell patents?
As far as i'm aware they declined this offer and wanted to get all these patents for themselves.
Seems to me they gambled, lost and are now acting like a crybaby.

I can't find anything stating that they offered Google to be a part of the consortium. Am I missing something or did you just make that up? Even if they were, the consortium is widely regarded a patent troll and I wouldn't blame Google for not wanting to join.

Spicoli said,
I would think building a platform by stealing everything in site is the issue here. Probably the worst is the shameless rip off of Java.
Do you think clean room reverse engineering should be illegal as well? I guess you don't think PC clones should have existed either?

Buying patents for the purpose of suing is not cool. Google tried it and hopefully others won't get away with it either. Regardless, just another patent issue that won't be settled for years. Really tired of it

Then perhaps Google should stop stealing other people's stuff and license it like everyone else does. That's the heart of the matter here. Google doesn't want to license anything that they're using, whereas the other companies have to (Microsoft licences technologies they use, Apple does, etc.).

Just because it's "open source" does not give you the ability to simply rip it off and give it away for free.

The ball is in Google's court, they could fix this by doing the right thing and pay for the technologies that it uses. However, they don't want to do that, they'd rather introduce new stupid protocols and things to avoid having to pay for it. It's very childish really.

Ideas Man said,
Then perhaps Google should stop stealing other people's stuff and license it like everyone else does. That's the heart of the matter here. Google doesn't want to license anything that they're using, whereas the other companies have to (Microsoft licences technologies they use, Apple does, etc.).

Google has plenty of FRAND patents.

Just because it's "open source" does not give you the ability to simply rip it off and give it away for free.
What part of the GPL/LGPL/Apache/BSD/etc license are they breaking?

The problem is the vagueness of patents. You shouldn't be able to patent "method of showing something on a screen" or any number of other patents that are similar. Sure, you can patent that EXACT method, but most of these are hardly detailed.

Ideas Man said,
Then perhaps Google should stop stealing other people's stuff and license it like everyone else does.

Like Google is alone in all of this.

As soon as people realize that all companies are guilty of things like this and to show your support buy actually buying the products you like instead of bitching and moaning about what every company does...the better.

techbeck said,

Like Google is alone in all of this.

OK, I can see the issue here. I used a poor choice of words with "everyone else", what I should've said was "most others"; well spotted. The article is about Google, your post was about Google, therefore my response was centred around Google and their actions.

As soon as people realize that all companies are guilty of things like this and to show your support buy [sic] actually buying the products you like instead of bitching and moaning about what every company does...the better.

I fail to see the relevance to the discussion. Seems more like an attempt at a pot shot or to change the topic of discussion than anything else.

If you like Google and Android, that's lovely. It doesn't change the fact that the company producing the products is still ripping off the producers and/or owners of some of the technologies they use, without paying for it.

The law as it stands now is that you can't simply steal it and get away with it. That's it. Stop whining over the validity of the patent system and attempting to justify their actions. At the end of the day, they can either license the technologies they use (And therefore, free all their OEMs from the obligation), develop their own inferior technologies to replace them, or bitch about the patent system and hope that someday it all goes away, whilst continuing to infringe on someone else's stuff in the mean time.

I see you're clearly in the latter camp. God help you if you develop something really cool, go to the trouble of protecting it and then have someone copy it and give it away from under you.

It doesn't change the fact that the company producing the products is still ripping off the producers and/or owners of some of the technologies they use, without paying for it.
Such as? Please elaborate. Or do you have the power to divine court findings from the future? All I see is a bunch of accusations and rhetoric.

Geezy said,
Such as? Please elaborate. Or do you have the power to divine court findings from the future? All I see is a bunch of accusations and rhetoric.

The future? What are you on about? I'm talking about the here and now. The rest of your comment seemed somewhat petty.

Just for you, Microsoft is getting the royalties from Android OEMs for patent infringements. The fact that they all pay up means they acknowledge that they're infringing on Microsoft's patents. If the OEMs didn't believe Microsoft had a case, they wouldn't pay. What's so difficult to comprehend about that?

Two technologies that come to mind are FAT and Exchange ActiveSync. Want to know more? Do your own research.

Thanks for elaborating as you were not specific in your post, making it hard to find out what you were talking about.

Google licenses ActiveSync from Microsoft. Google does not implement FAT support in its first/second party devices. Third parties that do, license the parents from Microsoft.

No wonder I couldn't find any info on Google "ripping off the producers and/or owners of some of the technologies they use, without paying for it."

So they tried to pay a *lot* of money to buy these patents.. but since they were outbid the patents should now be invalidated? Seemed pretty valid when they wanted to buy them themselves... sour grapes.

They wanted to by to prevent exactly this type of nonsense from Microsoft and Apple. They knew those two would simply use the patents to bully every Android manufacturer and try to force their hand at making Windows. Microsoft has always been akin to the mafia when it comes to patent extortion and can't die soon enough.

recursive said,
They wanted to by to prevent exactly this type of nonsense from Microsoft and Apple. They knew those two would simply use the patents to bully every Android manufacturer and try to force their hand at making Windows. Microsoft has always been akin to the mafia when it comes to patent extortion and can't die soon enough.

The group is bigger than Microsoft and Apple, recheck all the mobile names. Google could have participated with the group as well, and decided NOT to do so.

This group exists to ensure 'open' access to the patents, it was Google's arrogance where they thought they could obtain the patents and attack all the members of the group.

Max Norris said,
Riiiiight... but it's ok when Google does it?

Why don't you look at how many lawsuits Google has STARTED vs how many any of the others has?

Max Norris said,
So they tried to pay a *lot* of money to buy these patents.. but since they were outbid the patents should now be invalidated? Seemed pretty valid when they wanted to buy them themselves... sour grapes.

Indeed. And if Google had been able to purchase these patents, they would have been using them in a similar way, only they would also not be allowing others to license them at fair and reasonable cost...

It would have been far worse if Google was in control here, and I hope the court considers that.

recursive said,
They wanted to by to prevent exactly this type of nonsense from Microsoft and Apple.

No, Google wanted them to sue every phone manufacturer. Or at least countersue all of them when they sued Google (Google uses a lot of IP they don't own and willfully infringe on).

As far as the sale is concerned, I think the companies that make up Rockstar finally finished going through them all and decided on the patents they don't need or produce anything using them (the opposite of a patent troll)

Max Norris said,
Riiiiight... but it's ok when Google does it?
Google have signed a pledge not to do this called the Open Patent Non-Assertion pledge so you won't find them doing things like this.

TCLN Ryster said,
Yeah, just like they made their motto "Don't be evil"....

That was a poor choice of motto because many things can be considered evil by one person that are not by someone else. I don't think they're any more or less evil than MS or Apple though.

On the other hand, this pledge states its purpose clearly. Backing out of it would be a lot more difficult.

Nik Louch said,
Please explain with sensible argument and not emotive nonsense...

The irony is Google was the one acting predatory, as this group exists to ensure open access to the patents and to prevent battles between the mobile producers.

So yes, Google needs to crawl away and die as quickly as possible.

Mobius Enigma said
this group exists to ensure open access to the patents and to prevent battles between the mobile producers.
You mean it's a protection racket that only let's the big boys play and inhibits startups. This group doesn't produce anything themselves and only exists to extort on behalf of those colluding, so that they have nothing to lose because they aren't bringing the lawsuits directly.

Mobius Enigma said,

The irony is Google was the one acting predatory, as this group exists to ensure open access to the patents and to prevent battles between the mobile producers.

So yes, Google needs to crawl away and die as quickly as possible.

What are you on about you silly little man. The group exists to ensure open access to patents for its members. Since Google is not a member and Rockstar were the first to sue, they were the predatory ones. Basic comprehension... use it.

_Alexander said,
Google really needs to die.

I like it when some one leave a comment like that and go get his pop corn while other fighting I got my beer