When you hear about a patent case in the Eastern District of Texas, you can bet there will be shenanigans. This time a jury in the capital of software patent lawsuits has found that Google infringed on a patent held by a company called SimpleAir that reportedly covers push messaging systems used in Android.
Despite it being the holiday season, there is little jolliness in Google's legal department. Google has just filed a lawsuit against Rockstar. No, not the game maker of GTA fame. This legal attack is aimed at the Rockstar patent holding company owned jointly by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony, and Ericsson. Rockstar has been going after Google and various Android OEMs for patent infringement and Mountain View has apparently had enough.
Rockstar's patents come mostly from the purchase of the Nortel portfolio a few years ago, but Rockstar itself is merely a litigator of patents – it doesn't make anything.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Reuters reports that the Rockstar consortium, a joint effort between Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and Blackberry, has sued Google and Android manufacturers Samsung, HTC, LG, ASUStek, Huawei, ZTE, and Pantech over patents formerly held by the now-defunct Nortel Networks. Rockstar won the patents in an auction in 2011 that topped out at $4.5 billion - Google lost the same auction with a $4.4 billion bid.
About two years ago, we reported that one of the most recognized patent trolls around, Lodsys LLC, had sued game maker Rovio over Angry Birds for Android, claiming that the defendant had "infringed and continues to infringe" on patents controlled by Lodsys.
If you're not up to snuff on your patent troll bestiary, Lodsys is a company that produces no real goods or services, but holds plenty of patents that they are willing to either license or use for legal action.
Google has announced a new initiative today that might, if we're lucky, slowly lead to some meaningful changes in how patent litigation is approached. Or, alternatively, make it easier to highlight the jerks who are ruining it for everyone. The Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge gives would-be inventors a pool of patents that Google promises to never sue anyone over, "unless first attacked." That last part is where eyebrows go up, though.
The verdict in the Apple-Samsung legal battle came in much sooner than expected and the news hasn't been good for Samsung. To pull out one of the most relevant details amid all the patents and trade dress claims, the jury has ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages. Yikes.
Update: The jury was asked to reconsider Question 4 of the verdict form. After deliberating, the jury's answer was changed to "no" for the Intercept and one other device, and the damages amount officially changed to $1,049,343,540.
Earlier today, Google rolled out a brand new feature for its online patent research tool: prior art search. Now, while looking at a patent, you can click a single button to pull up a host of results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, with a bit of Google's typical search results sprinkled on top. The goal, of course, is to aid in researching whether a patent that's been filed is "new and not obvious." Which is far more complex than it sounds.
As most of our readers are surely aware, the Apple vs Samsung case is still boiling, and over the course of nearly two weeks since the trial's beginning, document after document has revealed juicy details from both sides regarding previously unreleased designs, plans, and even sales figures. While so far we've avoided piecemeal coverage of the case's twists and turns, a new development (reported earlier this evening by The Verge) reveals something particularly interesting.
What an interesting turn of events - Oracle just sued a notorious patent troll Lodsys, seeking invalidation of four of Lodsys' patents. In fact, these are all the patents Lodsys owns - if Oracle wins, Lodsys will have nothing to threaten innocent developers with.
If you haven't been following the Lodsys drama for the past year+, let me step back for a brief history lesson. Lodsys LLC, a Texas patent troll shell corporation, has been harassing various developers since early 2011, including many with Android apps in the Play Store.
Adding another suit to the series of legal skirmishes falling under the overarching battle between Apple and Android Manufacturers, Motorola Mobility has filed a new lawsuit in Florida, accusing Apple of infringing on a handful of technology patents. This suit is hot on the heels of a preliminary U.S. ITC decision that Moto had not infringed on Apple's patents, and comes as an addition to an existing Florida lawsuit (which began in late 2010).