RPX Corporation has announced that its subsidiary RPX Clearinghouse LLC has agreed to buy about 4,000 patents held by the Rockstar consortium for $900 million. This is the majority of the patents acquired following Nortel bankruptcy, the market operation behind the creation of the consortium, which includes Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony. The transfer of so many patents to RPX Corporation could score at least a truce in the tough war fought in recent years using software and hardware patents as weapons.
The Rockstar consortium was created in 2011 with the aim to exploit the 6,000 patents mostly on technologies related to communications purchased from Nortel for $4.5 billion. In fact, the consortium had started attacking Google with law suits in particular arguing that the Android mobile platform violates a number of those patents.
Almost exactly a year ago, Google openly accused the Rockstar consortium of patent trolling. However, something changed in recent weeks, when the two sides reached a preliminary agreement to end the litigations. The purchase announced by RPX a few days ago seems the next step in this truce between Google, and consequently all Android device manufacturers, and the Rockstar consortium.
RPX Corporation is a company founded in 2008 with the aim to provide services related to patents. The basic philosophy of RPX is to use patents only for defensive use, never to attack other companies or practicing patent trolling but rather to try to limit the risks for their clients to be the victim of legal attacks related to patents.
The idea of RPX is to buy patents to make them available to its customers at reasonable prices. Among the company’s customers there’s also Google, which will get the use of the former Nortel patents without paying billions eliminating the risk of further litigations. This could have huge consequences on all the Android world thinking for example to the lawsuits involving Samsung.
Erich Andersen, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft, welcomed the agreement stating that the according to the company it proves that the American patents system work and promotes innovation. Frankly, it’s a statement that makes me think of Microsoft as a patent troll.
The approach of RPX Corporation, which prefers to work with companies to find solutions in the use of its patents rather than starting lawsuits, could be decisive in the end of the patent war fought by big companies in the field of technology. Billions have been spent in lawsuits and in agreements obtained with threats of lawsuits. All that money could now be used to really promote innovation.