Google is suing the Rockstar consortium in a California court claiming that Rockstar has pressured California companies to discontinue the use of Android in their devices. The lawsuit seeks a declaration that Google is not infringing seven patents, which are the basis of seven lawsuits filed by Rockstar against Google customers.
Google claims that Rockstar is suing its customers for “making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing, exporting, supplying or distributing ‘certain mobile devices have a version (or an adaptation thereof) of the Android operating system.'” It also claims that Rockstar representatives have contacted Google’s customers to try to get them to stop using Android.
Rockstar is a non-practicing entity formed by Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry, among others, to purchase and defend patents formerly held by the bankrupt Nortel Networks. Rockstar and its affiliate MobileStar are headquartered in Texas, but many of the attorneys who file lawsuits for Rockstar are based in Canada.
Roughly three of every four mobile devices shipped worldwide run Google’s Android operating system. Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’s Windows OS and BlackBerry’s BB10 are Android’s closest competitors. These companies already have cross-licensing agreements in place for several elements of their mobile IP.
“Microsoft actually makes more money on Android phones than they do on Microsoft phones from a software perspective because of the cost of license of some of the core IP that’s in Android,” said Chris Hare, CEO of The NTete Group. “If you’re Google and you want Android to be the leading OS globally you need to make sure that there’s not a cost impediment that basically means that operators and others and consumers will choose something other than Android.”
Hare said Google also wants to make sure its business partners do not end up with an injunction that will prevent them from shipping devices. “If the IP position means it ends up in court and someone ends up with an injunction, the courts worldwide have shown that they have the ability to stop Samsung or Apple selling phones,” he said.
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