If you haven’t been watching the news today, a big bomb was dropped on Google. The Rockstar consortium (Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC) has sued Google as well as Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. Is there an obvious and easy way around Rockstar?
So what happened is this. Nortel was going bankrupt. Google bid for their patents, but lost out to a consortium of companies. That consortium includes Apple, BlackBerry(then known as RIM), Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC. Even at the time, Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, wrote that Microsoft, Apple and others were engaging in hostile patent warfare against Android.
So, how can Google and company get around this particular issue? There may be a quick and easy was to do it. Maybe. I won’t pretend to be a an expert at patent law, but I do know that one member of that consortium is not doing particularly well these days. In fact, they’ve been shopping around for a buyer. Blackberry. As a member of the consortium, they would have full rights to the patents owned by the consortium. A purchase of Blackberry by Google would bring ownership of those patents (at least partial) to Google, making the suits against Google moot.
Even if a Blackberry purchase isn’t a possibility, there’s another possible solution out there as well. During the initial purchase, the DOJ investigated the companies involved because they were concerned (as was I) that the patents being purchased would be used in an offensive against Android. As it turns out, they were right about that (and by extension so was I). The DOJ only approved the purchase with the hopes that Rockstar would only use the intellectual property it purchased strictly to defend itself from Android initiated lawsuits. It may be that the DOJ may not take kindly to this particular aggressive action by Rockstar.
There’s quite a bit of worry out there today regarding these new suits against Google and the Android ecosystem. I’m not going to say that worry isn’t warranted, but there are options available to Google that could very well make this a minor bump in the road. We’ll have to wait and see how things pan out, but this lawsuit may not be the huge problem so many people think it’s going to be.