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Rockstar sues companies including Google for infringing Nortel patents

The Rockstar consortium, which bought the Nortel patent portfolio for $4.5 billion, has sued cell phone manufacturers as well as Google for patent infringement

Along with another company, Netstar, the consortium, which is owned by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony and Ericsson, filed the lawsuits at the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Thursday. Rockstar and Netstar are claiming Google willfully infringed the patents and are asking for a jury trial.

Google is accused of infringing seven patents relating to technology which matches internet search terms with relevant advertising.

In addition to Google, Rockstar is also suing companies including Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, LG, HTC, Pantech, and ASUSTeK in separate lawsuits.

The Nortel patents were put up for auction in July 2011 after the company went into bankruptcy proceedings. Rockstar was given clearance by the Department of Justice to buy the portfolio after agreeing to license the patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Google placed a starting bid of $900 million for the patents and increased its bid several times, eventually offering $4.4 billion. After losing out to Rockstar, Google purchased Motorola for $12 billion. Google agreed to license the Motorola patents on FRAND terms, but was sued by Microsoft in November last year for allegedly demanding “excessive and discriminatory” royalties.

In the case, Rockstar Consortium US and Netstar Technologies v Google, Rockstar and Netstar are represented by Susman Godfrey.

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Kaushal Choonee is a patent attorney at Elekta in the UK