All that changed when the proprietary outfits formed an glorious alliance of patent trolls called Rockstar. The aim of Rockstar was to use every trick in the patent troll’s handbook to bring Android to its knees.
Now Google has filed a new lawsuit to challenge Rockstar claiming that is using dubious patents to threaten its partners and customers in the mobile device industry.
In a complaint filed Monday in San Jose, Google claims that Rockstar’s patent campaign has “placed a cloud on Google’s Android platform,” threatening Nexus devices in particular.
For the first time Google is stepping in to protect ASUS and other companies that use Android.
Rockstar filed a wave of lawsuits in late October which many think could spell the end of Android.
ASUS, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE have all been targeted with threats.
Jobs’ Mob, Vole and BlackBerry spent $4.5 billion in 2012 for a trove of patents from Nortel and is using them to try and kill Android.
Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licences to its patents under threat of litigation.
Google is worried about the Nexus line of phones and wants a court to declare that “the Nexus 5, Nexus 7, or Nexus 10 devices sold by Google directly or indirectly” don’t infringe seven patents that belong to Rockstar.
The patents relate to basic functions like “mobile hotspot functionality,” ”VPN management functionality” and “Messaging and Notification”.
Right now, the law favours Rockstar. In April, America’s patent appeals court ruled Cisco could not sue to protect its customers from patent infringements suits targeting customers that used its routers. This precedent would mean that Google is not allowed to protect its customers.
Meanwhile, Rockstar has also expanded its troll campaign with new lawsuits against Cisco and the cable industry earlier this month.
But it would seem that all is not well for Rockstar either. Bloomberg claims that Rockstar has had “little success in landing large licensing deals,” and that some of its patents are now up for sale.
This indicates that some tech companies are banding together to fight Rockstar. Much of a troll’s business model depends on people being too frightened to go to court and paying up.
There is also a problem for Rockstar that next year the Supreme Court reviews whether software patents should be eligible in the first place, and as Congress pushes forward with a law to rein in patent trolls.