Apple and Other Rockstar Consortium Shareholders Not Involved in Google Lawsuit Decision
Late last month, the Rockstar Consortium -- a group of companies, including Apple, Ericsson, Microsoft, BlackBerry, and Sony, that purchased a collection of 6,000 patents and patent applications from the bankrupt Nortel in 2011 -- sued Google, Samsung, HTC, Huawei and others for infringement of some of those patents.
In an interview with Intellectual Asset Management (via TUAW), Rockstar CEO John Veschi, who was Nortel's chief intellectual property officer before the company went bust, said "It was entirely my call based on the facts in front of me." Shareholders, including Apple, "got an email telling them what had happened after the suits were issued.”
What is important to remember about Rockstar is that it is essentially the continuation of what was previously the Nortel licensing operation – or the one that Veschi would have established if he had been able to see through his plans for the Canadian telecoms company before it entered bankruptcy. Veschi joined Nortel as its chief IP officer in 2008 and by 2009 had already established programmes for both its internet patent portfolio and the one relating to handsets. As a result, he and his team have actually been negotiating with parties for four or five years, not just the two since Rockstar came into being. “The real question is why it took us so long to initiate actions. We didn’t and we didn’t, but there comes a time when you have to. There is nothing magic about it,” Veschi says.
There was some pushback against Apple, after the initial lawsuit filing, from customers and pundits who believed Apple was behind the filing of the lawsuit. This interview would seem to be a response from the Rockstar Consortium, which apparently operates independently of its shareholders, that the decision was entirely up to the holding company's executive team.
Rockstar is likely seeking significant damages from Google and the other defendants, claiming that their patent infringement is ongoing and willful.