While the latest Google buzz is about this month’s conference in San Francisco, we look back at its recent victory versus a patent holding group, which shifted the legal battleground from East Texas to California.
When Rockstar Consortium — composed of Apple, Blackberry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony — successfully outbid Google in 2011 for the then-bankrupt Nortel’s portfolio of patents, it set its sights on Google and several other Android companies, filing suit [PDF] in 2013. The fight was set to take place in the patent-friendly district of East Texas until Google countersued, arguing it should take place in California where it resided. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken agreed and offered the plaintiff a significant first win by moving the case west.
“Although Defendants claim to have substantial ties to Texas, their headquarters appear to be in Canada. The interest of the Eastern District of Texas in this controversy is therefore outweighed by the compelling interests in California.”
Earlier in her ruling [PDF], and of particular note, is when the federal judge called out Rockstar and the origins of co-plaintiff and subsidiary MobileStar.
“… the circumstances here strongly suggest that Rockstar formed MobileStar as a sham entity for the sole purpose of avoiding jurisdiction. … A mere day before it initiated litigation against Google’s customers, Rockstar freshly minted MobileStar, with no California contacts, and assigned the asserted patents to that subsidiary. … Although Rockstar asserts ‘there is no hint whatsoever of any manipulation’ and that ‘MobileStar was created for legitimate reasons having nothing to do with personal jurisdiction,’ Rockstar does not actually provide any evidence supporting this point.”
Judge Wilken also referred to the well-documented rivalry between Google and Apple and linked “Apple’s unique business interests, separate and apart from mere profitmaking” with Rockstar’s actions against Google and its customers. (For the federal jury’s recent verdict in Apple v. Samsung, click here.)
With great interest, we’ll keep our eye turned to the west for what happens next in the ongoing “thermonuclear war.”