Rockstar, the consortium that had acquired Nortel Networks' patent portfolio in 2011 for $4.5 billion, has filed patent infringement lawsuits against seven mobile handset makers including Google and Samsung Electronics.
The Rockstar consortium, comprising Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Blackberry and Ericsson, filed lawsuits in the US District Court in Texas against Google, Samsung, HTC Corp, LG, Asus, Pantech, ZTE and Huawei, most of whom make devices based on Google's Android operating system.
The main target of the lawsuits appears to be Google, who is accused of infringing seven patents on technology that pairs internet search terms with related advertising, the central feature of Google's ad businesses, such as AdWords.
In July 2011, the Rockstar consortium successfully bid for the prized tranche of patents from bankrupt Nortel Networks, which comprised of 6,000 patents and patent applications across wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, internet, semiconductors and other patents. (See: Apple, Microsoft, Sony, RIM bag Nortel patents for $4.5 bn)
Blackberry paid around $770 million as part of its share, while Ericsson paid $340 million, while Apple was rumoured to have paid the highest - $2.6 billion.
Google had bid $4.4 billion for Nortel's patents, but lost out in the auction to Rockstar, though a month later it bought Mobility Holdings for $12.5 billion in order to get hold of its trove of more than 17,000 patents on phone technology.
Analysts had said at that time that had Google won the bidding for the patents won by Rockstar, it would have been better able to protect Android from patent infringement claims as large patent portfolios often serve as a counter-strategy against claims by rivals, since cross-licensing deals effectively lead to a legal ceasefire.
''Google placed an initial bid of $900 million for the patents-in-suit and the rest of the Nortel portfolio. Google subsequently increased its bid multiple times, ultimately bidding as high as $4.4 billion,'' Rockstar said in its filing.
''That price was insufficient to win the auction, as a group led by the current shareholders of Rockstar purchased the portfolio for $4.5 billion. Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe the patents-in-suit.''
Alleging that Google's patent infringement is willful, Rockstar is seeking compensation for past and future damages, and additional damages, including attorneys' fees and costs related with the lawsuit.