Patent lawsuits, otherwise known as patent trolling, have become major problems in the technology industry as many companies have found that they can use patents for more than just protecting their ideas. Now Google has reportedly decided to sue a consortium backed by Apple and Microsoft called Rockstar, which has been threatening Android device manufacturers with lawsuits.
The lawsuit against Rockstar will allow Google to protect some of its key Android partners including ASUS, which has been vital to Google's Nexus line of devices. This move seems to be in direct response to Rockstar's storm of lawsuit filings in October, targeting at least half a dozen Android device manufacturers.
Very few people had ever heard about Rockstar prior to its myriad lawsuit filings in October. Even now, since the group does not actually do anything other than threaten companies with lawsuits, the average consumer does not know about Rockstar or the control it has over the tech industry.
Rockstar is little more than the result of the combined efforts of Apple, Microsoft, and Blackberry to target numerous tech companies in the form of patent lawsuits. The group was formed after the companies paid a total of $4.5 billion in 2012 to receive a plethora of patents once held by the now defunct Canadian telco company, Nortel.
The companies involved with Rockstar have developed the group into a powerful patent troll machine. There are only a handful of people employed by Rockstar. The majority of them are testers who spend their days looking through current tech products to see if anything about them infringes upon the Nortel patents. If the testers find a match, Rockstar's legal arm threatens the "infringing" company with a lawsuit and attempts to extort money or else it will follow through with an actual lawsuit.
After Rockstar filed lawsuits against numerous Android device manufactures in October, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Google fought back to protect some of its most important money-making partners from massive lawsuits. That time has come and Google is all but calling Rockstar a patent troll.
"Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents. Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its patents under threat of litigation." according to Google's filing.
In reality, this feud has been building since before Rockstar became a major threat, as Google also attempted to buy the Nortel patents when they went up for sale in 2011. Since Apple, Microsoft, and Blackberry were able to pay more, Google lost.
At the same time as Google is waging a legal battle against Rockstar for its lawsuits, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will be ruling next year if software patents lawsuits should even be heard in the courts. If the Supreme Court rules that software cannot be fought for in legal battles, many of Rockstar's claims will no longer be as much of an issue for Google.
Posted: 2013-12-30 @ 11:35pm PT
@Edgar Just because you can't build a prototype of a new widget super fast has nothing to do with protecting your creative genius from thieves. Of course you shouldn't sue on frivolous matters involving "similar" ideas [broad scope in nature]. Often though, an employee of Company A steals the files, ideas & blueprints and sells them off to Company B [a well funded competitor]. In turn, they immediately build the first prototype, taking all credit. This is plain wrong. Sue 'em!
Happy New Year to everyone! R Terry Editor for www.GetATrip.com
Posted: 2013-12-30 @ 11:03am PT
I'd disagree. Some very creative people come up with ways to make existing products better, then license that technology to people who build products. The ability to license patents for use by others is essential to encouraging technological creativity. I don't think having a patent should be a mandate to manufacture and market. I do think, however, that the patent laws are too stringent and need to be overhauled.
Posted: 2013-12-29 @ 2:45pm PT
I think you should be able to patent -anything- whether a thing or a method, but if you don't actually DO something with it, you don't get to sue somebody who does. You should be able to sell the patent to somebody else, but if they don't do anything either, they can't sue either. If you haven't actually DONE anything with the patented technology and nobody else has in, say, a year, it's free game.