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Google Amongst Sued Companies By Rockstar Whose Patents Will Start Expiring In 2017

August 2, 2014 - Written By Kristijan Lucic

What is Rockastar? Rockstar is a patent consortium owned by Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Ericsson, EMC and BlackBerry (Research in Motion back then). They got 6,000 patents ( 4,000 US and 2,000 foreign patents and applications) from bankrupt Nortel Networks auctioned back in 2011. Rockstar payed $4.5 billion for that patent portfolio back then. The analysis we’re talking about was conducted by Elysium Digital, a legal technology consulting firm.

Rockstar sued many companies last fall (October), Google and other Android manufacturers included. Rockstar is having other active lawsuits as well though, they’re involved in lawsuits with Charter Communications, Cisco Systems, Cable One and others. Some of these patents started expiring in 2009, however majority of them will be affected starting  in 2017. The biggest amount of patents (over 400 of them) is located in 2019, 2020 and 2021 though.

This report is based on public data which include file histories, reassignment data and patent text provided primarily by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) considering this report is primarily based on U.S. patents and applications. First patents owned by the Rockstar consortium were issued back in 1992. Naturally after the patents expire they don’t have the ability to continue suing anyone. 30% of patents is related to switching and routing, 19% to telecommunication network techniques and systems, 11% to optical communications and 6% to cellular and mobile communications.

Rockstar Bidco and Rockstar Consortium US owns around 48% of these patents (32 and 16% respectively), Constellation Technologies has a 12% share while the remaining 39% is owned by companies we talked about in the beginning. The biggest chuck of patents is owned by Apple (27%), they’re followed by Microsoft and BlackBerry (6% each).

We’ve seen many opened such cases in the last few years. The one you probably remember most is the one between Apple and Samsung. Those 2 giants have fought numerous times in court, they even had/have multiple opened cases at the same time. Things like that are inevitable it seems. We’re going to see many more of these in the years to come so we better prepare for it. I just hope this won’t affect us (consumers) in the end because huge amounts of money are in play here.