Google accuses coalition of 'patent dragnet'

Google is challenging an Apple-backed coalition of tech companies it claims is waging a patent troll campaign to edge its products out of the market.

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The Rockstar Consortium’s “patent dragnet” is threatening to end Google’s Android device platform, the company alleged in a California district court filing this week.

The coalition of Google competitors, which also includes Microsoft and Research in Motion, has filed seven lawsuits charging Google with infringing on patents it purchased in recent years, but Google wants the court to overturn that effort. According to the lawsuit filed on Monday, Rockstar’s crusade has “placed a cloud” over its business and sales of devices using its Android operating platform.

In 2011, Rockstar spent about $4.5 billion, more than half of which came from Apple, to buy up a number of patents from the decommissioned Canadian telecommunications firm Nortel. Google claims that the coalition has since targeted more than 100 tech companies for infringing on those patents.

“Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents,” Google said in its court filing. “Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its patents under threat of litigation."

Rockstar has accused manufacturers of Android devices of using mobile Internet technology, location-based services and other features that infringe on its patents.

Lawmakers in Congress have moved forward with legislation to reform the patent process, but some critics of Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) Innovation Act argue that it would hamper innovation.