Google, Samsung, Others, Sued by Rockstar Consortium

Apple and Microsoft -- two of the older tech giants -- have consistently faced tough competition from relative newcomer, Google; now it seems they've formed a temporary alliance to hit Google where it hurts -- search.

Several lawsuits were filed last week against Google, HTC, Samsung and many others led by the unlikely friendship of Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony -- collectively known as the Rockstar Consortium. The plaintiffs' claim against Google and its partners is over seven patents that use Internet terms to help direct advertising. This basically amounts to Google's entire core business model and, if successful, the suit would be a tough one for the king of search to slough off.

Patent wars are becoming an increasingly big deal as big companies buy up patents to both stomp out competition and help the company take exclusive control of future market niches. Typically, these lawsuits result in either a dismissal or a monetary reward for the injured party. With this suit, though, it's hard to imagine how Google would be able to continue to function if it had to whether such a blow.

This suit comes after a bidding war over patents held by Nortel, sold off in 2011. In the end, Google's bid topped $4.4 billion -- just narrowly losing to the Rockstar group at $4.5 billion. After losing out on Nortel, Google went on to pick up Motorola's chest of patents for $12.5 billion.

It's much too early to figure which way this case will go, but things don't look great for Google and friends.

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  • burnley14
    The greatest obstacle to progress these days is stupid crap like this. If companies could free up the insane amount of resources they spend protecting themselves from lawsuits and their "intellectual property" it would be amazing to see how quickly things progress. The entire patent system is so flawed and abused that everyone loses as a result.
  • GeeLouie
    Apple is the leader in this law suit! They cannot compete thus the need for frivolous lawsuits and US protection. No matter what Apple does, it will go down to single digits in market share where it belongs!
  • Vigilence
    Let these NSA abiding roaches fight each other out of business.
  • guvnaguy
    This is the epitome of capitalistic greed: rather than combine their collective patent knowledge and wealth to make something they could ALL profit from as well as benefiting society, they have to bring one another down.
  • hitman40
    11863865 said:
    Apple is the leader in this law suit! They cannot compete thus the need for frivolous lawsuits and US protection. No matter what Apple does, it will go down to single digits in market share where it belongs!

    If you can't backup your statement that Apple is the leader in this suit, then I advise you to take your clear iHate elsewhere instead of an article that clearly lists joint partnership between multiple companies.

    And no, selective reading gets you no where in life.
  • ioconnor
    Why is blackberry which is on the verge of bankruptcy getting mixed up with this?
  • tjandrew

    Are there no editors on this site? "whether" means "expressing a doubt or choice between alternatives" whereas in this case the phrase you used comes from "weather" meaning "come safely through (a storm)"
  • -Fran-
    After the results for this quarter, I think Google should buy Sony+Ericsson.

    Problem solved. It would be way cheaper than the risk of losing the court battle and even maybe a possible settle (in the long term) for all of the companies.

  • bochica
    Funny to see that all of the companies in this "consortium" are all the companies who, as of a recent announcement, are losing market share to the Android devices (even though Microsoft just start and is slowly increasing with smartphones).
  • ddpruitt
    Actually this is old news and the article is incomplete. Rockstar is a technically independent organization spun off by those that bought the Nortel patents. Technically as in everyone bought the patents and created a new patent troll for them. On the other hand these companies gave the patents to Rockstar on the condition that they get a cut of any lawsuits and don't sue them. Rockstar has 12-15 employees whose only job is to reverse engineer Google products and find potential patent violation.

    Second Rockstar isn't sueing just for search terms they're also going after mobile technology like LTE, which is why Samsung and HTC are also defendants.

    What's totally insane is that Rockstar is using the fact that Google bought Motorola Mobility as an argument that they are abusing patents when this happened AFTER the group that can't compete bought Nortel.

    ARS has a good series of articles on this if anyone wants to get the full story and not the abbreviated Tom's version.