Google, Rockstar Patent Suit to Stay in California

Google Inc. kept live its lawsuit seeking a declaration that its Android smartphone software patents do not infringe any of Rockstar Consortium’s patents.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken agreed with Google Thursday, in refusing to move the suit to Texas, that evidence suggests Rockstar created a subsidiary to avoid jurisdiction in California.

Rockstar was created by five of the world’s largest technology companies, Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion (RIM), Sony and Ericsson, to purchase thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel in 2009 for $4.5 billion.

The consortium was named Rockstar Bidco and later changed to Rockstar as the entity enforcing the patent rights.  Of the 2,000 patents transferred to Rockstar, Apple controlled 1,147, according to the court.

While Rockstar says it is based in Plano, Texas, it is operated by Nortel’s former CEO John Veschi, who continues to operate in the old Nortel headquarters in Ottawa, Canada, according to the court.

On Halloween 2013, Rockstar sued a host of Google customers, which produce Android products, in Texas over seven patents controlled by its subsidiary, MobileStar, created to control licensing of those patents.

Two months later, Google filed the current lawsuit in Oakland, California seeking a declaration its Android platform and three Nexus products do not infringe the seven patents in the Texas lawsuit.

“The circumstances here strongly suggest that Rockstar formed MobileStar as a sham entity for the sole purpose of avoiding jurisdiction in all other for a except MobileStar’s state of incorporation (Delaware) and claimed principal place of business (Texas,)” Wilken wrote.

A mere day before it filed the lawsuit against Google’s customers, Rockstar created MobileStar with no California contacts and assigned it the patents, Wilken said.

Wilken refused Rockstar’s request to toss the case or move it to Texas.

Case:  Google Inc v. Rockstar Consortium,  No. C13-5933


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