Rockstar patents could bring Apple nearly $400 million profit

“The Rockstar Consortium, a group comprised of Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony, will see a windfall on its 2011 purchase of some 4,000 patents from Canadian tech giant Nortel, with Apple expected to gain at least $392 million from the holding, one analyst says,” MacNN reports. “Wells Fargo’s Maynard Um has used BlackBerry’s reported gain of 17 percent of a base figure in predicting Apple’s share of the profits.”

“The companies, some of whom are now suing each other over other matters, banded together to keep a Google-led consortium from getting the patents,” MacNN reports, “fearing that the company would use them as a bargaining chip to protect itself over litigation threats stemming from its Android operating system, which copied large portions of Oracle’s Java and lifted the look and feel of Apple’s iOS (having originally modeled itself on BlackBerry’s OS).”

“Rockstar was able to win a total of about 6,000 telecommunications patents, of which it has since sold around a third, with a $4.5 billion bid,” MacNN reports. “The remaining 4,000 or so were sold to a patent holding aggregator called RPX in December, presumably with a permanent licensing agreement in place. RPX is said to have paid around $900 million for the assets, but the members of Rockstar are entitled to a percentage of future royalties.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A drop in the bucket vs. what was stolen and continues to be stolen and peddled to the ignorati by IP thieves and patent/trade dress infringers the world over.

From the earliest days at Apple, I realized that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software, we’d be out of business. If it weren’t protected, there’d be no incentive for us to make new software or product designs. If protection of intellectual property begins to disappear, creative companies will disappear or never get started. But there’s a simpler reason: It’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people. And it hurts your own character. – Steve Jobs

Here’s what Google’s Android looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:

Google Android before and after Apple iPhone

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

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6 Comments

  1. I completely agree, though Steve also love to quote Picasso “Good artist copy, great artist steal” and Steve said “He’s never been ashamed of stealing.”

    1. The problem with your quoting Steve is that you leave out (or may not even know) the context.

      Steve was talking about ideas — great ideas.

      You can’t copyright, trademark, or patent an idea. You can only do those things with specific implementations.

      Steve was NOT talking about copying (or stealing) someone else’s specific implementations or designs. And, Steve was always (going back to the 70s) against just copying someone else’s work or making bad derivative implementations.

      Steve WAS 100% in favor taking great IDEAS from other people and pushing his teams (whether at Apple, Pixar, or NeXT) to make a much, much better implementation of that idea.

      This is radically different than what Google, Samsung and others have done with things like their implementations of iOS and iPhone. For the most part their implementations are just poor derivatives of Apple’s implementations.

  2. Stealing cultural ideas is one thing. Stealing specific patented Intellectual Property is quite another. Those guilty of IP theft like to pretend they are one and the same thing. But they are not. The distinction is whether or not the original idea is IP. As far as I know, artistic style is not patentable.

    1. That’s difficult to understand. The Rockstar patents were largely from Nortel, which was the old Northern Electric. Northern Electric was the Canadian arm (affiliate) of Western Electric (the equipment branch of the old Bell System – can you remember?) until 1949.
      After 1949 Nortel was independent of the Bell System (though owned largely by Bell Canada, which also gained it independence from AT&T) and AT&T and pursued its own research and development. The Rockstar patent holdings were largely (maybe entirely) from Nortel & Apple couldn’t have separated any of those patents. It is generally assumed that Apple and its Rockstar partners all retain licenses to use and to share royalties from the Rockstar portfolio.

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