Apple is said to have taken ownership of 1,024 patents acquired by the Rockstar Consortium – of which Apple is a major stakeholder. By obtaining full rights to the patents Apple can now sue any company it believes is infringing them.
Apple owns a 58% stake in the consortium, having contributed approximately US$2.6 billion to the deal that saw Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion, Sony, Ericsson AB and EMC team up to buy Nortel Networks’ 6,000 patent portfolio for US$4.5 billion back in 2011. The patent enforcement firm was previously called Rockstar Bidco.
The purchasing group won the auction for the patents on 30 June 2011. 1,350 patents were originally acquired, with access to a pool of about 4,000 – 6,000 former Nortel patents covering data networking, wireless, optical, voice, semiconductor and service-provider technologies. Google had hoped to buy the portfolio, making a US$900 million “stalking horse” bid in April that set the minimum asking price in a multi-day auction.
Since Apple owns a 58%, the company already had access to the patents, however, having outright ownership of a patent allows Apple to use the patents offensively, explains Business Insider. By obtaining full rights to the patents, rather than merely having licensed it, Apple can use the patents offensively in its ongoing lawsuits. The company can now sue someone for using the patent.
The transfer of patents took place over the past six months, according to Yonhap News.
Apple didn’t comment, but Mike Dunleavy, Rockstar’s general counsel, told Business Insider that contrary to widespread reports that Apple had a majority stake in the company, “No one shareholder owns a controlling interest in Rockstar Consortium.”
Nortel, once a major supplier of enterprise voice and data networks and wireline and mobile carrier infrastructure, declared bankruptcy in 2009.