6 January 2014Patents

Google hits back at Rockstar in patent dispute

Google has hit back at Apple and Microsoft-backed group Rockstar Consortium claiming its recently launched patent lawsuit is “harmful and disruptive.”

In October last year, Rockstar, which owns a lucrative portfolio consisting of thousands of patents, sued Google and several other smartphone makers accusing them of infringing patents by using Android technology.

The complaint said Google and seven other smartphone makers had committed “wrongful acts” and that Rockstar was entitled to recover damages.

The seven patents in question all relate to the same invention and are known as a patent "family."

They are titled "associative search engine" and surround the way certain Internet search terms are matched with relevant advertising.

However, in a response filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of California on December 23, Google says Rockstar “intends to harm” its Android platform and “disrupt relationships” with Android operators.

It [the response] also refers to industry media reports which it claims recognised that Rockstar had launched an “all-out attack on” Google and adds that the actions had had an impact on sales of its Nexus devices.

The complaint says the lawsuit “placed a cloud on Google's Android platform; threatened Google's business and relationships with its customers and partners, as well as its sales of Nexus-branded Android devices; and created a justifiable controversy between Google and Rockstar."

Google is seeking a judgement of non-infringement on every patent.

The dispute can be traced back to 2009 when Canadian-based telecommunications company Nortel went bust and auctioned a lucrative portfolio containing more than 6,000 of its patents.

In 2011 the portfolio was sold to Rockstar which defeated Google with a $4.5 billion bid for it.

According to Google’sresponse, Rockstar “produces no products and practices no patents.”

It adds: “Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers … who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its patents under threat of litigation.”

Nortel's patents and patent applications encompassed technologies such as wireless, wireless 4G and data networking.

“For all these reasons an actual controversy exists between Google and Rockstar regarding the alleged infringement of any claim of the patents,” the response adds.

“Google has not caused, directed, requested, or facilitated any such infringement, much less with specific intent to do so,” it adds.

Rockstar and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

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More on this story

4 November 2013   The Rockstar Consortium, backed by technology companies including Apple and Microsoft, has sued Google and several smartphone makers claiming infringement in the US.
10 October 2014   Google will be relieved after the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said its patent dispute with the Rockstar Consortium should be heard in California, not Texas.