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Google sues Apple/Microsoft-backed consortium Rockstar, not the makers of Grand Theft Auto

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Google is making moves this week to protect its Android partners as the Apple, Microsoft-backed “Rockstar” patent group seeks to sue numerous Android partners. Google has asked a San Jose court for a declaratory judgement to rule that Google and thereby the Android ecosystem does not violate seven of Rockstar’s patents.

The Rockstar patent campaign has its sights set on hundreds of California tech companies according to GigaOM and litigation has “placed a cloud on Google’s Android platform.” The move is said to threaten Nexus devices in particular and Google is now taking its own set of necessary actions to protect its partners. Google’s lawsuit looks to protect companies like ASUS and other manufacturers that use the open source Android system from the legal sword of Rockstar, which filed its own lawsuit in October:

Among the myriad companies ensnared in Rockstar’s patent dragnet are customers and partners of Google who use the Android platform in their devices, including ASUS, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE.

Rockstar, by all accounts is a patent troll brought about by Google rivals like Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry after the companies spent $4.5 billion acquiring patents from Nortel, the once giant Canadian telco company. Google’s complaint points out the lack of any real manufacturing capabilities by Rockstar, instead focusing on its patent trolling:

Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents. 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.

For its part, Rockstar isn’t just focusing on Google and Android as its CEO has also eyeballed Facebook, LinkedIn and dozens of other companies it says is infringing on older Nortel patents.

Given unpredictable jury verdicts (see Samsung) and injunctions, the patent trolling by Rockstar may be ridiculous to you and I…but in the land of the worlds most dysfunctional patent system, Google has plenty of reason to go on the offensive.

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