Ghosts of Nortel's patent past return to haunt Android: Report

Ghosts of Nortel's patent past return to haunt Android: Report

Summary: The patent consortium that picked up Nortel's patent portfolio in 2011 has filed a suit against Android-aligned manufacturers Google, Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Asus, LG, and ZTE.


The Rockstar patent consortium, jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC, has filed suit in the US District Court in Texas against Google, Samsung, HTC, and Huawei for infringing patents related to matching search terms with advertising.

Reuters has reported that Google is accused of wilfully infringing on seven patents, following an unsuccessful bid for the patents in 2011.

"Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," the filing said.

Google accused Microsoft and Apple of anti-competitive behaviour in the creation of Rockstar after it was beaten out by the consortium to purchase ownership of the patents from the bankrupted Nortel in 2011.

"This anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they're really worth. The winning $4.5 billion for Nortel's patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion," Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, wrote at the time.

Apple contributed $2.6 billion to the group, making it the majority financial backer behind Rockstar.

Asus, LG, Pantech, and ZTE are the other companies to be sued, along with Google, Samsung, HTC, and Huawei, TechCrunch has reported.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Google, HTC, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Huawei


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • I hope that Google and Sumsung

    will strike back at those it came from, .i.e., the rascals in Redmond and Cupertino. Microsoft and Apple deserve a bankruptcy.
    • Apple+ Microsoft= pure evil

      Apple+ Microsoft= pure evil
      Apple and Microsoft are inferior and not able to compete so they steal, patent and sue
      People, don't buy Apple's and Microsoft's products, you save the competition!
    • This is long overdue. Google has been stealing IP from all over the place

      in a desperate attempt to produce software they don't have the intellectual horsepower to produce themselves. It's about time those who google suckered into selling it without IP indemnification pay for their greed.
      Johnny Vegas
      • I know, right?

        If only Apple could produce a computer you wear on your face that tracks and records everything you're doing.
    • Why?

      Because they legally outbid whatever Google was willing to offer and bought the patents? In my mind protecting intellectual property is one of the most important things in a civilized society. If Google and those android manufacturers really did violate any patents they should be made to pay. You may not like a corporation or consortium owning patents, but that's the law. Someone paid for the research to develop it, why should someone else be allowed to steal it and use it for free?
      Sam Wagner
      • Doesn't make it right

        You can do all kinds of things which are legal but still evil and harmful to society as a whole.

        Google already said these patents weren't worth what the consortium paid for them. That obviously means it's cheaper to "infringe" (yeah...right) than to waste over $4B on worthless software patents.

        If the US continues this patent stupidity, you'll see a migration of high tech companies to nations which support the right to do business without being harassed and legally extorted by companies which can't innovate or produce viable products.

        Mafia tactics don't work forever. And payback is hell.
        • Ignorance

          Patents protect intellectual property and help advance mankind. If you were an inventor you wouldn't be saying such nonsense. Without patents and the laws that protect them ideas would be stolen by the strong. Inventors would hide their ideas repressing economic growth. The whole Android system is built on stolen ideas. It's a great system yes... but that doesn't mean that Google themselves didn't do evil to build that great system. Apple may seem like a bad guy here, you may not like them because they've dominated the tech industry for the past 10+ years - people love to hate the big guys - but they've done nothing but purely innovate and push the industry forward. They're right to fight for their ideas.
          Mike Ketelaars
        • But they would have been worth the $4.2B that

          Google was willing to pay? And do you mean payback for Google letting their lapdog Motorola sue Apple and MS, but armed with worthless patents Google foolishly paid $12.5B for?

          You mean that payback?
    • You're mad because Google bid to do the same thing

      to "buy" their way out of theft charges (as you can no longer be accused of stealing something you now paid for), but in the end lost out.

      They were too slow, and too nieve ...
    • Sure. But Google was trying to buy those patents

      for the most altruistic of reasons, right?
    • It's Google that's Evil

      It's Google that's evil. The interface is indeed stolen from Apple. Google can't innovate in UIs - even Gmail struggles to break out of link v. button mode.
      Microsoft's OS are beautiful. So are Apple's. And everyone is copying Microsoft's clean UI approach.
      Android is so haphazard that you can't even train someone with a different device because each one is hacked.
      Apple's product's are focused and sellers. Microsoft has awesome tools (no one can dispute this) - Google still use Eclipse -- real innovation - for year 2001....
  • A company that all they do is reverse engineer products

    Looking for infringements of their patents doesn't bring any good to the World... but well if patents are valid others should pay them within the law.
    • Of course it does. It enables them to remain financially viable competitors

      Letting someone like google steal IP from lots of others who financed the creation of it and give it away creates unsustainable imbalance.
      Johnny Vegas
  • Patent trolling does not help the consumer...

    It drives up the prices of both hardware and software. Most of these "patents" are obvious anyway. Obvious and generic concepts should not be allowed to be patented in the first place, especially where software is concerned. That $4 billion is just going to be tacked on to the cost of doing business, and built into your next iPhone.