Google, Samsung, and more sued over Rockstar's patents

Apple- and Microsoft-backed Rockstar Consortium, which bought Nortel Network's 6,000 patent portfolio, goes after some of tech's other heavy hitters for alleged patent infringement.

Several new patent lawsuits surfaced Thursday in which some of tech's top companies have split up into two opposing teams. On one side is Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony -- otherwise known as the Rockstar Consortium -- and on the other side is Google, Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and others.

The suits are being brought by the Rockstar Consortium against Google and the other companies over a host of patents that allegedly infringe on various technologies, according to Reuters. Google is specifically accused of infringing on seven patents, which use technology that pairs Internet search terms with related advertising. The complaint filed by the Rockstar Consortium claims Google's patent infringement is willful.

The melee stems back to June 2011 when the companies engaged in a tit-for-tat competition to purchase Nortel Network's 6,000 patent portfolio. While Google tried to buy the Nortel patents for as much as $4.4 billion, it eventually lost out in an auction to the Rockstar Consortium, which bought the patent bundle for $4.5 billion.

"Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," the lawsuit said, according to Reuters.

Nortel's patents and patent applications encompassed technologies such as wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, and semiconductors.

When Google was unable to get in on the Nortel patent portfolio, it instead bought Motorola Mobility and its numerous patents for $12.5 billion in February 2012.

The need for companies to have a so-called "war chest" of patents has become an increasingly important part of doing business. Mobile devices in particular have become the latest target of patent litigation, due to their combination of features that may have previously been available only in standalone electronics.

The several patent lawsuits brought by the Rockstar Consortium were filed in a US District Court of Eastern Texas on Thursday.

CNET contacted Google and the Rockstar Consortium for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

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