In 2011, Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony formed a group called “Rockstar Bidco.” Together, they won an auction, against Google, for some 6,000 patents involving wireless technology and a range of innovations. Now, this purchase will be put to legal use. Here’s 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.
1. A Canadian Telecom, Nortel, Went Bankrupt, Auctioning the Patents in 2011 for 4.5 Billion Dollars
Nortel, a previously massive Canadian Telecom, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. The company still exists but at a considerably smaller size of 18 employees, from its height of 94,500.
in 2009, Nortel liquidated its assets, the last major one was said 6,000 patents including “wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, and semiconductors,” according to Wikipedia.
Google lost the auction to the Rockstar Bidco, hence incurring a serious legal fallout.
2. ArsTechnica Reports That a Patent War Has Begun, Legal “DEFCON 1”
As early as 2011, David Drummon, Google’s top lawyer reportedly said the Rockstar Bidco was engaging in a “hostile, organized campaign against Android.”
Reportedly, this failure to obtain the 6,000 patents is partly what prompted the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola in 2011.
3. Suits Were Filed Today Against 7 Android Smartphone Manufacturers
Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE are currently under legal siege.
“Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe,” the lawsuit states, according to Reuters.
Seven patents will be invoked against the manufacturers among them are a particular method for electronic document navigation, a graphic user interface navigation tool, and what sounds like a centralized notification widget.
The lawsuit directly against Google spans six patents all from the same category titled “associative serach engine.” ArsTechnica says the patents describe a “advertisement machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network.”
4. Wired.com Visited Rockstar, The Socalled “Patent Trolls” Reverse Engineer Products to Find Infringement
A 2012 Wired feature says “[an employee at Rockstar] examines successful products, like routers and smartphones, and it tries to find proof that these products infringe on a portfolio of over 4,000 technology patents.”
Patent trolling, also known as a “patent assertion entity” is an individual or organization that attempts to collect licensing fees based on infringement according to Wikipedia.
Additionally, in 2011, United States business entities incurred some $29 billion in direct costs because of patent trolling causing significant harm to the economy.
Not surprisingly, most patent trolling cases are slow, expensive, and taxing to the US legal system.
5. Google Bid Interesting Numbers During the Nortel Patent Auction
As a trivial footnote, Google bid against the Rockstar Bidco entity four times, using mathematically significant numbers each time but the first. Starting at 900 million, they then bid $1,902,160,540 then $2,614,972,128, and eventually $3.14159 billion, referring to Brun’s Constant (involves adding reciprocals of odd twin primes), the Meissel Mertens constant (involves natural logarithms and primes), and Pi (ration of circle’s diameter to its circumfere, phew) respectively.