Google tries to protect partners, Nexus devices from Rockstar

by: Shawn IngramDecember 26, 2013

Nexus 5 Android 4.4 KitKat Hands On

Google is looking for an early victory against Rockstar, a patent troll company that’s suing several companies invested in the Android ecosystem.

Rockstar is a shell company created by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, and other companies that purchased the patent portfolio of the now-defunct Canadian carrier Nortel. The company doesn’t actually create anything, and simply employs engineers who look over products form other tech companies. Those engineers exist solely to see what companies the patent troll can sue for patent infringement.

Google filed a complaint in San Jose earlier this week asking the court to rule that it doesn’t infringe on seven of Rockstar’s patents. The company claims that Rockstar has “placed a cloud” over Android and the technology industry with its patent lawsuits. Google is specifically concerned about its Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 10 devices, though it is also trying to protect its partners from the Rockstar lawsuits.

The complaint names ASUS, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE as other companies involved in the patent disputes.

Google might not have much luck in protecting its partners, though. According to GigaOm, the U.S. patent appeals court recently ruled that Cisco couldn’t sue to protect companies who bought its wireless routers from patent infringement. That precedent could work against any attempt by Google to sue Rockstar on behalf of its partners.

This isn’t Google’s only chance at stopping Rockstar, however. If the judge refuses to give Google an early victory, it will have plenty of other opportunities to fight against the Apple- and Microsoft-backed patent troll. It won’t result in quite the Apple vs. Google court case that some might want, though.

What do you think will come out of this? Will we see another big Google patent court case over Android, like the Oracle case? Do you want to see another big Android patent case?

  • Melad360

    well, fuck them

    • rattyuk

      Here’s the thing. Google were in the bidding for these patents. But they decided for s**** and giggles to bid random mathematical constants to win the bidding. They lost. They could of won these patents but decided to do a geeky bid to push the price up when they could have got them for less than half what they paid for Motorola.

      These patents cover a lot of the 4G stuff that is in play today, not the 3g and previous tech that Google acquired by purchasing Motorola. So the patents are relevant although I think that the stuff Google are being sued for are not the SEP / FRAND patents that Motorola hit Apple with.

      Out of interest this is from Ars Technica:

      “The complaint against Google involves six patents, all from the same patent “family.” They’re all titled “associative search engine” and list Richard Skillen and Prescott Livermore as inventors. The patents describe “an advertisement machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network.”

      The oldest patent in the case is US Patent No. 6,098,065, with a filing date of 1997, one year before Google was founded. Thenewest patent in the suit was filed in 2007 and granted in 2011.”

      So the actual patent attack is on Google’s entire business model. Placing ads.

      It would be nice if the original reporter had done his homework instead of relying on such trite terms as “the company doesn’t actually create anything, and simply employs engineers who look over products form other tech companies. Those engineers exist solely to see what companies the patent troll can sue for patent infringement.” The company who’s patents were brought from had some patents on integrating search terms with advertisements. Google should have done their homework instead of bidding stupid geek numbers.

      • Mike Bastable

        A brilliant simple post..funny people liked the stupid “lets bash apple” comments and ignored your post. The attack however is less on Google’s “whole business model” since the patents are very specific to mobile tech and Google is MORE than mobile tech. Maybe Android Authority need to follow this initial sketchy report with some more in depth details…

      • Guest

        First, the odd bidding numbers by Google had nothing to do with them winning the bid or not. They dropped out long before the finale amount. So, let’s not act like their choice in bid amounts had something to do with them winning or losing the bid. It didn’t. In the end they decided the price was higher than they wanted to pay and stopped bidding. There was NO way apple and microsoft would have let google win the bidding — that’s the whole reason they made the consortium in the first place, to ensure google lost.

        Second, Google was asked to join the consortium that purchased the patents, for a fee of course — I believe it was a disproportionate amount. Google chose not to join. However, the consortium was allowed to purchase the patents as long as they agreed to not use them as a weapon against “Android.” That’s probably the primary reason Google felt they didn’t need to pay to join the consortium or bid higher. . .

        All in all, Google could have avoided lawsuits against themselves. However, they could not avoid lawsuits against other Android manufacturers even if they joined the consortium. Yet the consortium agreed not to use the patents as a weapon against Android.

        Therefore, Rockstar ‘the patent troll’ is doing exactly what they said they would not do — use the patents to attack “Android.” By attacking google they are attacking Android, and by attacking other Android OEMs they are attacking Android, etc. . . it all points back to an attempt to harm Android.

        • rattyuk

          “They dropped out long before the finale amount.”
          Nope they finally bid pi leaving Rockstar to take the patents.

          ” In the end they decided the price was higher than they wanted to pay and stopped bidding.”
          But this led to two things. Firstly bidding an outrageous amount of money for a company that was going down the pan because Carl Icahn talked them up. Secondly it’s put Google in a precarious position in the way of their income as Nortel appears to have patents covering returning relevant advertising to mobile devices.

          “However, the consortium was allowed to purchase the patents as long as they agreed to not use them as a weapon against “Android.””

          Nope Apple and Google said that they would not use any go the FRAND related patents as a weapon against Google. Rockstar have worked through the patents and found stuff that isn’t standards related. It is those patents that Rockstar are suing Google over.

          “That’s probably the primary reason Google felt they didn’t need to pay to join the consortium or bid higher. . .”

          I suspect not. Honestly? With the bids that were made it looked like some high school geeks were bidding and not a major corporation. It amused their mates but honestly that is no way to run a business.

          “However, they could not avoid lawsuits against other Android manufacturers even if they joined the consortium. Yet the consortium agreed not to use the patents as a weapon against Android.”
          You are missing the point. The items I listed above that Google are being taken to court over have nothing to do with the Android oems at all. It has to do with the very core of how Google monetizes Android. If this case were to succeed then Google would have no income from Android. At least no income without having to pay a tithe to Rockstar.

          It is very serious for Google. But it was very serious when the patents could have been picked up on the open market but the boys appeared to be wanting to score geek points rather than get actual business done.

  • raj


  • AndroidBoss

    At first, I thought “Rockstar” as in GTA lol.

    • Brian Shieh

      me too!

  • JP

    Damn Apple and the rest. But mostly Apple! Haha

    • Kevin R. Notfree

      At least the others are honest, Apple is in denial about their douchebaggery.

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    I think this shell company is violating Rockstar Games Trademark and therefore should change its name before it goes suing about patents.

    • telco


    • Brian Shieh

      Seriously, at first I thought the game company was suing Google.

      • Luqmaan Mathee

        Yeah same here. I couldn’t believe it.

  • Good guy Google!

  • Collin dubya

    And this is why i hate apple.

    • GasparIPerez

      And Microsoft!

      • Frank Bales

        And Google. None are innocent.

      • AndroidBoss

        W8 phones suck.

  • DarxideGarrison

    Google FTW!

  • monkey god

    I wonder what their reasoning is behind naming this shell company Rockstar. Especially since that name is already so commonly associated with one of the biggest video game makers and energy drink makers. I’m pretty sure if I were to come up with a drink called Apple, i would be sued instantly.

    • Mike Reid

      Apple Juice.
      Apple Cider.
      Apple Sauce.
      Apple Jacks.


      • Chris

        Apple flavoured ice scream.
        Apple salad.
        Apple sago
        Apple confetti.
        Apple flavoured lolipop.

  • Nishank

    It’s about time these companies should come together and create a healthy tech environment.

    • Mike Bastable

      it is actually quite healthy…works across the board for most other tech, where companies come together to establish standards and follow them together. The nature of the smartphone industry is one of conflict at the moment. It would be cool if the flaming wars between companies would end…but a simple look at the comments here do suggest a lack of rational thought when it comes to the issues.

      • Nishank

        Well said!

      • Guest

        The smartphone industry is in conflict because apple and MS are not in control and the world is moving to mobile, and they can’t compete via competition thus they resort to whatever they can to attempt some competitive advantage. Remember, MS and apple have never been THE smartphone players OR cellphone tech companies — those would be BB, Nokia, Motorola, etc. . . not apple or MS — ms provided a crappy os for a while but that’s about it.

  • filaos

    What are the involved patents about ?

    • sammidam

      About Apple anally intruding Microsoft while Blackberry walked in, so Blackberry joined in. But then suddenly Google walked in on them and refused to join in in their anal intrusion of one another, so now they have some shit against Google.

      • telco

        LOL ! absolutely the best post i’ve seen here

        • Luka Mlinar

          Not sure why you got down voted. I also found it amusing :)

          • Guest

            Some iTards are trolling AA like always. . . must suck being a fan of something that makes you want to read about the competition instead. . .

          • telco

            we cannot please everybody mate

          • telco

            we cannot please everybody mate

  • sammidam

    Here’s the line missing from Martin Luther King’s speech: I have a dream where one day we will have the best fucking tech without bitchy trolls spoiling the fucking show with their fucked up fucking patent fuckery. Now, fuck off.

    • MasterMuffin

      ^ I saw the document about that. At the last minute he decided not to include that part, I can’t understand why! ;D

      • gustavo Sam


  • LuoSKraD

    only in america.

  • Brendon Brown

    I think that they should change the way patents are filed … You should only be allowed to patent something if it is in your very next device … Because patent trolls are starting to kill off the market and take away all the innovations….

    • Mike Bastable

      patents protect innovators. Patent trolls are not new,just new to fans of Android ? iOS etc….this will pass

      • Guest

        Software patents were NOT allowed until recent decades due to Microsoft’s lobbying. . . . and Software patents do nothing to protect innovation as the software itself is protected by copyright.

        Furthermore, patents have become vague ideas on paper with no tangible invention whatsoever. No longer do they need a working prototype to prove they invented something. They just write anything and everything down they can think of and file for a patent, and the patent is nearly always granted. That is NOT invention or innovation. That is spam!

        The US patent system is borked!

  • Mike Bastable

    The usual raft of silly comments. Companies often willfully ignore patents deciding it is better to get to market, sell some product and pay the price at a later date. All Smartphone makers do this. All Smartphone makers did this in the aftermath of the iPhone. And they were RIGHT to do so! Building a secure package of patents will give a company some breathing room during hard times, nothing wrong with that at all. Most companies will pay a license fee, that is fair, to use a piece of tech that is patented. So the system keeps working and the thinkers and inventors are paid by the movers and the shakers.
    Now to Rockstar and to Google. With Android, and by making Android Open source (after building the code) Google cynically used Patented tech from others and ignored any licensing fees. They also blatantly copied the emerging Apple iOS software (look and feel among other things). Whilst many of the current Court cases are posturing and jockeying for influence and position the Rockstar patents are different: since they are core essential to the Android operating system (these were the foundations Nortel built itself on)
    Google was happy to leave Samsung to fight Apple all by its lonesome because Google DID NOT ask Samsung to blatantly copy the iPhone and try to sell it as the Galaxy. Google saw what Samsung did and left them to deal with the consequences (Google is an honest company and does not encourage intellectual property theft by its partners). However with the Nortel patents Google rolled the dice and is aware that (it DID ignore the patents issue, as did Apple, Sony, Microsoft and all the others at some time for some product) now is the time to get these sorted and pay some fees. Google will try to lead this process (as it should since Google originated the code and product that infringes Nortel patents). A smart move by Google to get started early and let the owners of these patents know that this will be a process, a negotiation..not a dictation of terms of surrender.
    Android is too big to fall or be unduly hindered by any agreement reached with the Rockstar group. So the usual we hate Apple rubbish isnt really needed here. Remember Google was actually prepared to pay rather a lot for this package of patents itself. They went to the highest bidder. Google merely decided it would pay less in fees that it would cost to buy the Nortel patents (probably decided that the Companies using Android should pay instead of it. Good call).
    So what is happening: Google is letting its friends know they are not alone in negotiating on this issue. Rockstar is letting Google and its partners know that it is time to pay up (they wish to recoup some investment). This isnt going to become Apple vs Samsung because the issues are different and the infringements more routine than product copying. Expect this one to involve initial public posturing and end with behind closed doors settlements.
    All in all not too exciting. As Google refines the Android system, these suits will be less frequent, but the rush to get Android to market essentially guaranteed some lawsuits later on. I think we are ALL grateful for that push…it resulted in our amazing smartphones!

    • telco

      so android is an iOS copycat not a linux based one?

      • Mike Bastable

        Telco: Linux looked nothing like iOS mate. Lets say that Linux is like foundations for a building: established technology, mostly unseen. The base. Then lets assume Apple built a gorgeous building on top of those foundations (the creative extra) lets say everyone loved the building and its useful new features and how easy it was to use!, lets say a rival copied it, knowing it would look-a-like but hey “we can sort that out later”…lets say that is why Linux is not relevant to my post and that you are merely being a little nit picky.

        • Guest

          No matter how anyone ever puts it, the GUI is stolen from Xerox by apple and MS. Therefore, iOS is nothing more than a descendant ripoff.

          • rattyuk

            Oh dear, that old chestnut.

            Apple “stole” it from Xerox by giving them the chance to buy shares is pre ipo Apple very much under the market rate. Xerox did this and made a lot of money – not as much as they would have made had they held onto them mind you.

            iOS is really a spin off of Newton which was significantly older than companies like Palm which is where most people seem to think Apple stole it’s ideas from.

          • guest

            talk about warped logic. . . twist and bend it till it fits, rattyuk.

        • telco

          is it me or is it you.. i just asked an honest to goodness question matey.

          • Mike Bastable

            Oke your remark was not the usual snidey “we hate iOS” question, my bad. Android and iOs rely heavily on open source code and precedents. As you pointed out Linux. Linux whilst being a good foundation has in no way the interface or advanced options of either OS. It is intended as a back end solution (option), indeed some PCs run Linux as an OS with a front end grafted on (it has many options). In this case Apple created a touch screen graphical user interface on top, that was revolutionary and very successful. At THAT time Android WAS being developed, in a very different direction, by Google (in house). Whilst others failed to see the consequences of Apple’s innovation (Hello Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft!!!) others did!. Google changed direction and redeveloped Android into the product we all know and LOVE today…basically by reacting this way they followed the OS principles chosen by Apple and thus to a great extent copied iOS (as i previously explained). So YES to your question, though as i and others have noted the situation is more nuanced than pure copying. Some say Apple copied Xerox (silly) and LG’s PRADA phone (inspired by is more accurate, since both were developed in tandem). Basically the inspired leap taken by Steve Jobs to design a phone as useable as an iPhone was game changing. We might NOT actually like Apple or iPhone and chose another sort of product but we can hardly deny that without it we would be stuck will symbian, windows and Blackberry still…we can all be grateful that this is not the case.
            So thanks Apple. More thanks Google (because i use Android) and it will be an interesting year as some further Linux/iOS/Android stuff comes to market big time. Hello Tizen and Cyanogen.
            Thanks for the question, my bad for the snide reply.

          • telco

            no offense taken. we have the same thoughts though i left the technical side you included a bit behind :)

    • bookworm

      When’s the rest of your book coming out, Mike?

      • Mike Bastable

        see the reply to Luka

    • Luka Mlinar

      Can i get it in PDF to go :D

      • Mike Bastable

        sorry the article was so badly written i felt the need to post…i can if you prefer just turn off my brain and insult Tim Cook

        • Luka Mlinar

          Nah, all good m8. But insulting Tim Cook is never a bad thing in my book ;)

    • Dave Weinstein

      Hmmm. It always seems to be Apple vs. SOMEONE. That in itself says something about the character of the companies.

      • Mike Bastable

        I think Apples huge profitability makes them a target. Samsung’s huge sales, in turn, makes THEM a target too. I think that many manufacturers would be wise to adopt apple tactics. Tight supply chains, good points of sale and high margins…these allow a company to make money! (try this approach please LG, HTC et al)
        A lot of litigation happens in private and in negotiation. Apple vs “the world” is exaggerated. Most “Apple VS” cases revolve around the same issues and patents. The industry is looking for “precedents”, that is lawful judgements (established after a series of decisions and appeals). These will allow retro active licenses and future development.
        As much as i hate to say it a quick look at the Apple vs Samsung case pretty much proved that Samsung DID copy and steal. As did others. Apple should be compensated (just lost all self credibility say that haha). Samsung is also (look around the world at various judgements) a somewhat dubious company with a very dubious reputation for business practices which are (putting mildly) vaguely criminal. THAT does say something about the character of THAT company. Under Jobs Apple became a bully (HIS character), under Cook they seem less…prone to new litigation than before (HIS character).
        I suppose being successful attracts attention, not always the good sort.
        After the IOS / Android period of domination we are now approaching a period of NEW innovation…it will be interesting to see who becomes the target next.

  • Luka Mlinar

    I just looked up Rockstar Consortium on wiki and by what I’m seeing, it kind of looks like Apple and Microsoft joined hands to fight against Android, i mean Google. Ok, now i really hate Windows Phone.

    • Luka Mlinar

      What does it profit a company to win a million dollar lawsuit and lose it’s soul (costumers in the process). Essentially Google and Samsung are winning by losing :D

      • Guest

        Google and others are giving choice and pushing forward, apple and MS hate choice and love stagnation, and we’ve all seen what they bring to the table when in control — slow. . . very slow progress which looks more like stagnation.

    • John Ross Ewing

      Windows Mobile CE used to be a decent OS , but it seems like Microsoft forgot to innovate with with each incarnation and what we have now is just crap. I would dare say Windows Mobile 6.1 was about the best Microsoft mobile OS, running on any of the old HP Jornada devices turned phones of course.

      • Luka Mlinar

        I had a Motorola MPx200. This was one of the best phones if not the best phone i ever had. It had an aluminium interior plate. The design was high quality. Even the plastic felt good in the hand. That device had Microsoft Smartphone 2002 and it worked perfectly., No lag, no problems what so ever. Un like Android. The OS wasn’t simplistic in design to the point where it made me feel stupid. Un like WP. It was just the perfect combination of everything.

  • Ashley James

    Speaking of patents, Apple has renewed ban on samsung products, a big blow for the Korean giant

  • SimonC

    Seeing as Sony is part of this Rockstar group, Google should stop offering Android support to them. Lets see if Sony like take a big hit when the updates dry out and nobody cares about buying them.

  • gez taylor

    4g patents are not currently frand or sep and Samsung is the 3rd largest patent holder of that technology stack.

    Samsung tried and failed to sue apple over 3g technologies they used in iPhone and iPad products. By acting in this aggressive manner with Microsoft they lay themselves open to a ban on LTE products and that would really hurt.

    So in brief while the day lady might be clearing her voice, I don’t think she has sung yet.


    This is why I really hate apple with a burning passion, I will be getting rid of my iPhone( I was already on planning on doing so). But this is really annoying, apple seems like a child that will tell on you for any little reason.