Those who've been reading our mobile coverage for a while will no doubt know that Google's Android OS has been the target of a great number of these lawsuits. Half-of-the-time, it's hard to know if Google's truly at fault, because the patents in question are often so broad. Alas, the law is the law, and sometimes its results don't always seem fair.
Matters became worse for Google in 2011, when Nortel Network Corporation filed for bankruptcy and was forced to sell a staggering 6,000 patents to Rockstar Consortium. Not long after, Rockstar made use of those patents to wage battle against Android-focused vendors.
Given its position in the mobile market, the most notable company behind this consortium is Apple, but other key vendors have been involved as well, including Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony, and Ericsson.
Given that, it should come as no surprise why Google's faced so many legal hassles in recent years. Fortunately, though, those hassles will soon dwindle in numbers, as RPX, a patent risk management company, has just announced that it's absorbing all 4,000 of Rockstar Consortium's remaining patents for $900 million. That's a far cry from the $4.5 billion Apple and co. paid for the original 6,000, but it's not considered much of a loss given that the other 2,000 patents have already been distributed to consortium members.
“Leading technology companies from multiple industries came together to shape this transaction,” said John A. Amster, CEO and co-founder of RPX. “We commend everyone involved for their leadership and commitment to clearing the risk of the Rockstar portfolio by negotiating a reasonable purchase price in one efficient transaction.”
According to Reuters, the reason for the sale stems from the consortium's owners "rethinking their strategy" for the patents, which could play out in interesting ways down-the-road. Either way, for all companies involved, this is a very good move. It means less time in the courtroom, and hopefully more time for future innovation.
Google declined to comment on the sale, which isn't too much of a surprise. I think at this point the company would rather wait and see how things proceed from here-on-out, rather than jump to conclusions right now.