Patent Battle Between Google, Rockstar To Remain In California
April 18, 2014

Google Patent Battle With Rockstar Consortium To Stay In California

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

The case between Google and Rockstar just became a little more complicated, and the case will remain in California despite protests. On Thursday U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken’s ruled that Google provided sufficient evidence to keep its countersuit against the patent consortium in California.

While not as high-profile as the epic battle between Apple and Samsung, this court battle has been brewing for some time.

Last November a number of companies formed an otherwise unlikely alliance to sue search giant Google for infirming on search patents. Led by Apple, and backed by Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony, the group formed the fittingly named “Rockstar Consortium,” and together it had acquired some 4,000 Nortel Networks’ patents for $4.5 billion (US) in 2011.

The group filed suit against Google – as well as HTC, Huawei and Samsung – in a U.S. District Court in Marshal Texas, after the group created a subsidiary dubbed “MobileStar Technologies” in Plano, Texas.

In December Google fired back and petitioned a California court to rule that it did not directly or indirectly infringe on multiple patents. It filed a complaint with the US District Court for the Northern District of California claiming that the lawsuits “have placed a cloud on the Android platform, threatened Google’s business and relationships with its customers and partners and its sales of Nexus-branded Android devices, and created a justiciable controversy between Google and Rockstar.”

As a result of this week’s ruling, the Google complaint against the Apple-backed group will remain in California rather than be moved to Texas where Rockstar already has the aforementioned patent lawsuits against Google and its Android partners.

The court documents noted: “Google Inc. filed this declaratory judgment action for non-infringement of seven patents owned by Defendants Rockstar Consortium U.S. LP (Rockstar) and MobileStar Technologies, LLC (MobileStar). Defendants now move to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer the action to the Eastern District of Texas, where the action could be consolidated with several other actions filed by Defendants against Google’s customers. Google opposes the motion or, in the alternative, requests jurisdictional discovery. The Court held oral argument on March 13, 2014. After considering the papers and the arguments of counsel, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss or transfer.”

This ruling is being seen as a substantial victory for Google as the Eastern District of Texas has been reportedly seen as a district more friendly to patent holders, according to ArsTechnica's Joe Mullin.

Wilken also went so far as to call the formation of MobileStar a “sham entity,” which was created for the sole purpose of avoiding jurisdiction in all other states except for MobileStar’s state of incorporation of Delaware – yet claimed Texas as its principal place of business.

“A mere day before it initiated litigation against Google’s customers, Rockstar freshly minted MobileStar, with no California contacts, and assigned the asserted patents to that subsidiary,” Wilken added in her findings.

What happens next is still not clear.

Google has alleged that the lawsuits filed by Rockstar in Texas had placed a cloud on the entire Android platform, and in doing so had threatened its business and even its relationship with its customers and partners.

PC World also reported that the Rockstar suits in Texas could be transferred and consolidated in the California court, or that case could stay in Texas – to be reopened upon completion of the California suit. The case in California will likely resolve some of the infringement issues in the Texas court, Judge Wilken wrote in her judgment.