Google asks US court to rule that Android has not infringed Rockstar patents

Rockstar has sued Google and seven other companies including Samsung in a court in Texas

Google has asked a court in California to rule that it does not directly or indirectly infringe seven patents of Rockstar Consortium, after the Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony backed patent firm sued seven of Google's Android partners in a court in Texas.

The lawsuits filed in October in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, 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, Google wrote in a complaint this week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Rockstar acquired Nortel Networks' patents for US$4.5 billion after outbidding Google in 2011. It filed lawsuits in October against Samsung Electronics, HTC and five other companies alleging infringement of some or all of seven patents.

Samsung's Mobile Hotspot feature, which allows sharing of a mobile device's data connection with other devices by turning it into a wireless access point, is alleged to infringe claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,128,298 ("the '298 patent") entitled "Internet Protocol Filter," for example.

Describing the lawsuits by Rockstar as "Android OEM actions," Google said in its filing that Rockstar has asserted its patents only against "certain mobile communication devices having a version (or an adaption thereof) of [the] Android operating system." Each of the "Android OEM Defendants" also makes other products that do not use Google's Android platform, Google added. Rockstar has also alleged patent infringement by Nexus 7, a device offered for sale by Google and built by Asus, one of the "Android OEM Defendants," according to the filing.

Google claims that its Android platform and the Nexus 5, 7 and 10 devices it sells directly or indirectly do not infringe any claim of the seven patents in the suit. It has asked the court for a declaration that both Android and the Nexus devices do not infringe Rockstar's patents.

The Internet company has described Rockstar as a firm that "produces no products and practices no patents" in its filing. "Instead, 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 licenses to its patents under threat of litigation."

Google said the California court had jurisdiction as, among other reasons, Rockstar's shareholders like Apple in Cupertino, California, "direct and participate in Rockstar's licensing and enforcement efforts against companies in California."

In a separate action, Rockstar and subsidiary NetStar Technologies have alleged that Google has infringed seven other patents acquired from Nortel. The patents, all titled "Associative Search Engine," relate to an invention used to provide advertisements based on users' search terms. Google has asked for a 30-day extension of time to file its response to the complaint, which was granted by the court in Texas. Advertisements around search terms is a key component of Google's business.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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