Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is countersuing an Apple-supported consortium known as Rockstar, a patent-holding company that originally sued Google and other original equipment manufacturers (or, OEMs) that utilize the Android operating system — Samsung, LG, and HTC, and others — claiming that the companies were infringing on several old patents held by Nortel, a now-defunct Canadian telecom and data company. Nortel’s former engineers are now employed by the consortium, Gigaom reports.
The Rockstar consortium is owned by a number of Google’s rivals, including Apple, Microsoft, and Blackberry. The companies spent $4.5 million to create the company, with Apple coughing up the majority of the funds. It dropped $2.5 million on the project’s creation.
Google filed it’s complaint in San Jose on Monday; the filing claims that Rockstar has targeted more than 100 companies since it’s creation, including Facebook and LinkedIn, which Rockstar says are all infringing on old Nortel patents, now held by the consortium. While Google’s filing doesn’t go so far as to explicitly call Rockstar a patent troll, it doesn’t hold back it’s distaste, either; in the section of the filing titled “Rockstar’s History and Business,” Google writes that, ”Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents. Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine others companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its’ patents under threat of litigation.”
Google is particularly concerned about it’s Nexus devices, and in the filing it specifically asks the court to declare that, “The Nexus 5, Nexus 7, or Nexus 10 devices sold by Google directly or indirectly ” aren’t violating the seven patents belonging to Rockstar it is accused of infringing on.
The patents in question address a number of now-basic functions, such as “mobile hotspot functionality,” “VPN management functionality,” and “Messaging and Notification.”
Nevertheless, Google is — and should be — concerned since lawsuits mean there’s an ongoing threat of injunction and unpredictable jury verdicts to deal with, reports Gigaom, and it’s still unclear whether Google will be successful in seeking a declaration that its devices don’t infringe, particularly since in April the patent appeals court ruled against Cisco when the company tried to sue to protect its customers from patent infringement suits that targeted its customers using Cisco routers, Gigaom says.