The Apple And Microsoft Backed Rockstar Starts To Find Problems With Its Patent Portfolio

Dec 25 2013, 5:22am CST | by

As we all know there was something of a frenzy a couple of years back to pick up portfolios of smartphone patents. One part of that was the purchase of the Nortel patents stash by Rockstar, the Apple and Microsoft backed consortium, for $4.5 billion. The basic problem here seems to be that these patents aren’t worth quite as much as everyone thought they were.

Rockstar and its subsidiaries have pursued lawsuits over the patents. In October, Rockstar filed suit against Google, Huawei Investment & Holding Co. and affiliates, Asustek Computer Inc., ZTE Corp., HTC Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc., and Pantech Co. for patent infringement. The patents up for sale don’t include the ones involved in the litigation, two people said.

A buyer, or several buyers, could acquire Rockstar’s patent portfolio excluding those involved in the lawsuits, two people said. Because Rockstar bought the Nortel patents at a high price and doesn’t want to sell them at a loss, the deals could be structured to take advantage of any future financial gain enjoyed by the buyer, the people said.

This isn’t unique to Rockstar either. Patent stashes just seem to be worth less now than they were thought to be worth then. True, there have been a couple of right out of the ballpark home runs. Apple’s near $1 billion judgement against Samsung, Microsoft collecting a rumoured $2 billion a year from Android licencees. But many of the other attempts to assert patent rights seem to be running into one of two problems. Either the courts are striking down the patents themselves or, in other cases, awarding entirely trivial sums in compensation for breaches or agreed royalties. Thus the value of those patents is falling. Something of a problem when you’ve dished out $4.5 billion for them.

There’s also some action in the Rockstar suits against Google. Here a suit by Google is said to be about gaining summary dismissal of the cases, and over here an attempt to get the cases moved out of East Texas and into Northern California. Not an unusual request that second, not for a defendant at least. East Texas does have a reputation of being very plaintiff friendly in such suits.

Source: Forbes Apple


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