Google Hit By Rockstar Lawsuit For Matching Search Terms With Ad Patents

Google and mobile phone manufacturers integrating the Android operating system into its products got hit with several patent lawsuits Thursday by a consortium funded and backed by some heavyweights in the tech industry. The patent technology supports technology and processes that match search terms with relevant advertising.

The lawsuit -- filed by the Rockstar Consortium, jointly owned and funded by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony, and Ericsson, in a federal court in Texas -- accuses Google of infringing on eight patents. Samsung, LG Electronics, HTC, Huawei, Asustek, Pantech and ZTE -- part of Google's Android network of OEMs -- are also named as defendants in the cases.

The Rockstar Consortium, founded in 2011, controls a portfolio of about 6,000 patents worth approximately $4.5 billion bought from the bankrupt Canadian telecommunications company Nortel. The group outbid Google.

Not all agree with the lawsuit. Charles Duan, director of Public Knowledge's patent reform project, called the consortium "a hired gun" with a sole purpose of extracting licensing fees, settlements and judgments from companies that put products in the hands of consumers. "Its actions discredit the patent system and will do nothing to promote innovation," he said. "Instead, its activities will hurt consumers by raising prices and reducing the functionality of products in the marketplace."

The lawsuit identifies the consortium created two subsidiaries, Mobilestar and Netstar. The later holds the exclusive license of one patent identified as United States Patent No. 6,098,065. It accuses Google of infringing on the patent by its "manufacture, use, sale, importation, and/or offer for sale of systems, methods, products, and processes for matching search terms with relevant advertising and/or information based on those search terms and other user data" -- and it details how the company infringes.

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