updated 07:50 pm EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Apple, Microsoft part of 'Rockstar' patent holding company
The patent "supergroup" Rockstar that includes Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony is suing Google, Samsung, and Huawei over seven patents. The patents were purchased at auction by Rockstar, and involve technologies that helps to pair Internet search terms with advertising related to the search.
The auction took place in 2011, with Google placing a $900 million bid for the ex-Nortel patents. Google was forced to increase its bid by Rockstar. Google ceased bidding at $4.4 billion, and lost to Rockstar.
When Apple and the other companies that make up Rockstar originally won the patents, the deal was investigated but ultimately cleared by the federal Department of Justice as being unlikely to harm consumers. At the time, all parties involved in the bidding (which included Google) had promised to license any standards-based patents on "Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" (FRAND) principles. The filing of the suit implies that licensing terms have been offered to Google and the other defendants, and have been refused.
"Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," the filing in Texas claimed. Rockstar is seeking damages, as well as a finding of willful infringement, which could potentially triple any award for the actual infringement.