updated 09:56 am EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Google evidence wins over judge
US District Court Judge Claudia Wilken has denied a motion by the Apple-led Rockstar Consortium to transfer a patent invalidation countersuit by Google from California to the Eastern District of Texas, Reuters says. The Eastern District of Texas is infamous for leaning towards patent holders in its court rulings. Wilken ruled, however, that Google was able to provide enough evidence to keep the case in California.
Rockstar paid $4.5 billion in 2011 to outbid a rival Google-led group for a collection of Nortel Networks patents. $2.6 billion of that money came from Apple, but other Consortium partners include BlackBerry, Microsoft, Sony, and Ericsson.
Last October, the group used its purchase to file suit against Google and several Android phone makers via the Eastern District of Texas. Google retaliated however, filing the patent invalidation case. The countersuit is believed to be serving the dual purpose of negating Rockstar's case and bringing it back to a more neutral venue.
In Wilken's motion to dismiss, she notes that a co-plaintiff in Rockstar's case -- a firm called MobileStar, located in Texas -- is a "sham entity" formed by Rockstar "for the sole purpose of avoiding jurisdiction in all other fora except MobileStar's state of incorporation (Delaware) and claimed principal place of business (Texas)." She remarks that "a mere day before it initiated litigation against Google's customers, Rockstar freshly minted MobileStar, with no California contacts, and assigned the asserted patents to that subsidiary. [...] Other evidence suggesting MobileStar maintains no independent identity is the fact that all MobileStar employees also work for Rockstar."
Wilken also agrees with Google's argument that Apple's business interests are directly connected with Rockstar, meaning that the proper state for the case would be California, where both Apple and Google are based. Rockstar was claiming that Texas was more convenient, despite its own operations residing in Canada, where Nortel operated before its bankruptcy.