Two years ago over 6,000 patents covering 4G wireless innovations and a range of other technologies were sold by bankrupt Canada-based telecom firm Nortel. The patents were scooped up by "Rockstar Bidco", a consortium formed by Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson and Sony, for a whopping $4.5 billion.
Unfortunately, it seems Rockstar Bidco will use these patents to fuel yet another smartphone patent war. The firm basically launched a major attack against Google and the Android ecosystem, going after not only Google but also Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. Rockstar's sole goal is to convince more than 100 technology companies to pay it licensing fees for a huge array of products. According to John Veschi, Rockstar's CEO, "pretty much anyone out there is infringing". Full details at ARS Technica.
This afternoon, that stockpile was finally used for what pretty much everyone suspected it would be used for—launching an all-out patent attack on Google and Android. The smartphone patent wars have been underway for a few years now, and the eight lawsuits filed in federal court today by Rockstar Consortium mean that the conflict just hit DEFCON 1.
Google probably knew this was coming. When it lost out in the Nortel auction, the company's top lawyer, David Drummond, complained that the Microsoft-Apple patent alliance was part of a "hostile, organized campaign against Android." Google's failure to get patents in the Nortel auction was seen as one of the driving factors in its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola in 2011.