Nortel patents at issue in suits against Google, Huawei

The group that owns thousands of patents for technology developed by defunct Canadian telecom company Nortel filed patent lawsuits Thursday against Google, Samsung, HTC and Huawei.

Ottawa-based Rockstar seeks out Nortel patents in today's wireless handsets and software

Canadian telecom giant Nortel went bankrupt in 2009 and its patents were sold for $4.5 billion to the Rockstar Consortium, owned by Apple, Ericsson, BlackBerry and Sony. (Canadian Press)

The group that owns thousands of patents for technology developed by defunct Canadian telecom company Nortel filed patent lawsuits Thursday against Google, Samsung, HTC and Huawei.

Rockstar, an Ottawa-based company that is co-owned by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony, claims that protected Nortel technology underlies some of Google’s search technology.

Rockstar bought the portfolio of Nortel patents for $4.5 billion in 2011, undercutting Google, which ended its bidding for the same portfolio at $4.4 billion.

Google is accused of infringing seven patents for technology that helps send users ads based on their internet search terms, the lawsuit said.

"Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," according to the filing in U.S. District Court in Texas.

Google declined to comment on the suit, according to Reuters.

The complaint asks for past and future damages arising out of Google’s infringement, with a trial by jury.

Rockstar, which has been carefully combing through technology owned by its owners’ competitors for Nortel patents, also filed a complaint against Samsung Electronics for seven different patents.

The suits against Samsung and other Android phone makers such as HTC and China’s Huawei, involve a navigation tool for graphical user interface and aspects of its operating system that support gallery, maps and browser functionality.

Nortel had a portfolio of 6,000 patents related to wireless technology, fibre optics, internet search and social networking. The formerly dominant telecom company went bankrupt in 2009 and sold off its assets.

Rockstar is devoted to determining where Nortel technology underlies today’s wireless devices and software and has a team of lawyers who press users for compensation with the threat of lawsuits as an incentive to pay up.

Its owners, including Apple and BlackBerry, are rivals for the smartphone market with Google and Google’s Android-supported handset makers, but Rockstar says it operates independently.

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