Apple-led Rockstar Consortium said to hold discussions to sell select patents

“A consortium created by Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other technology companies to acquire $4.5 billion of patents from Nortel Networks Corp. in 2011 is holding discussions to sell a portion of those patents, according to people with knowledge of the plans,” Olga Kharif and Adam Satariano report for Bloomberg.

“The group, called Rockstar Consortium, has recently been in conversations with possible buyers about the patents, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public,” Kharif and Satariano report. “Rockstar, which also includes BlackBerry Ltd., Ericsson AB and Sony Corp., has had little success in landing large licensing deals for the patents, three of the people said.”

“Rockstar has already begun selling some of the patents. In July, intellectual-property company Spherix Inc. said it acquired a suite of patents from Rockstar. Spherix paid an undisclosed amount of cash and $1 million in stock, plus Rockstar will receive a percentage of future profits,” Kharif and Satariano report. “Rockstar and its subsidiaries have pursued lawsuits over the patents. In October, Rockstar filed suit against Google, Huawei Investment & Holding Co. and affiliates, Asustek Computer Inc., ZTE Corp., HTC Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc., and Pantech Co. for patent infringement. The patents up for sale don’t include the ones involved in the litigation, two people said. A buyer, or several buyers, could acquire Rockstar’s patent portfolio excluding those involved in the lawsuits, two people said.”

Read more in the full article here.

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18 Comments

  1. And so the saga rolls on.
    Having depleted the useful patents, Rockstar Consortium has now embarked on a money making venture by allowing those who can to do what they can with the remaining patents in return for future profits.
    I call this the wedge model, were the thin edge of the wedge is the entry point for those who can. When those who can do what they can, then the income exponential to the point at which thewy are on the wedge determines how much in royalties they pay back to RC.
    A win, win for all those involved.
    A lose, lose for infringing Bas**ards!

    1. In theory, not necessarily, in reality yes a huge one.

      Google was attempting to take over the web standard for video (not a small thing) in a manor similar to what they have done in the past (by creating an “open” (but proprietary to google) video compression standard (web-M, and it was only slightly more “open” a standard as flash (also touted as an “open” standard)
      Using their already acquired “youtube” asset they could have strangled any other codecs (and also strangled iOS’s ability to play videos)
      Rockstar prevented them from executing their plan (because true to form, google just had a bad rip off of H-264 encoding)
      Due to rockstar we now have a real true standard for web video (mpeg4/h.264). It’s (rockstar’s) litigation wasn’t an attempt to squeeze money, it was an effort to keep google from creating a proprietary “open” standard for the web (and choking competitors out)

  2. I am not very pleased with this approach. The primary emphasis has been the patent litigation against Google, et. al. Now they consortium has leftover patents of uncertain value, and they are attempting to monetize them. I understand the this consortium has to find a way to somehow profitably dissolve itself over the long run. But this will just feed the patent lawsuit wildfire that has already burned the companies in the consortium. There has to be a better way.

    1. If there has to be a better way. What is the better way?
      Making statements like that without backing them up is akin to being a heckler. Happy to sit on the sidelines and critic loudly but not prepared to jump in and perform lest you get critiqued and heckled yourself.
      Grow up!

      1. Are you serious, crabapple? The crabapple apparently does not fall far from the tree. I might take offense at your baseless attack if it were not so asinine. My comment certainly has more value than your lame attempt at a rebuttal.

        Apple bought into a group of patents with some other companies, cherry-picking a subset to use against Google and Android vendors. That is understandable, although the need for it is regrettable. The patent system is broken, and this is just a desperate attempt to achieve a just conclusion via undesirable methods.

        The consortium attempted to sell the remaining patents on the open market, but reportedly found no interested parties. That would tend to indicate that the patents have relatively little value, even as a defensive play for other companies. So the consortium decides to sell off some of the remaining patents to a company that is just going to feed the current, out-of-control patent litigation process. As I pointed out previously, all of the companies in the consortium have been targeted by patent holding companies who produce nothing but lawsuits. Now they are feeding that system. I don’t like it. Just because I did not offer an alternative in my previous post does not mean that you have the right to respond as you did.

        Here are a few options… The consortium could just sit on the remaining patents until they expire. Or the consortium could use these patents as the basis of a patent pool that would be offered at very reasonable licensing terms (FRAND-like) to promote new business. Or, they could just make these patents publicly available at no cost – the start of a patent “open source” movement.

        My point is, if no one else wants to buy these patents and the only option for making any serious money is to turn them over to a patent holding company with the intent of litigation, then perhaps they are not worth much, anyway. And even if they are worth a substantial amount via litigation, is it really worth feeding that system?

        1. Settle down, I think his point is, that the people leading rockstar are acutely aware of the patent landscape and also their charge (to create industry standards for video compression and web delivery)
          Unless you have some unique insight (and I am actually in the Film/TV production industry, and don’t) I think we need to figure that they know what they are doing (particularly so considering their success.)

          1. Crabapple is the one dissing me. And I never claimed to have any unique insight into the issue. I simply stated that I did not like the idea of sending off a group of patents to a holding company for use in litigation.

            I like the new MDN app because I tend to read the comments less. As a result, I tend to post less. Everyone wins…

        2. Dear KingMel, I can call you dear, can’t I?
          I have just given you your second excellent 5 stars 🙂
          If you had posted this earlier, I need not have written what I did. As it is, I do not need to try to second guess where your comment was leading to.
          I agree with you on the selling of patents to a patent troll for the purpose of suing innovators instead of innovating. My thinking before your explanation was that they were selling to a business who’s intent was to actually produce something that if was successful, they could remit a potion of their success via royalty payments on sales.
          I had not thought of your angle and insight, so thank you!

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