Apple's Rockstar patent consortium denied request to transfer Google suit to Texas
A U.S. district judge on Thursday issued an order denying Rockstar's motion to transfer a patent invalidation suit leveled by Google from California to the more patent holder-friendly Eastern District of Texas.
According to U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken's ruling, Google provided sufficient evidence to keep its countersuit against the patent consortium in California, a substantial win for the Mountain View-based company, reports Reuters.
In 2011, the Apple-led Rockstar Consortium paid $4.5 billion ($2.6 billion of which came from Apple) to outbid a Google-backed group for a cache of Nortel patents. Rockstar, which includes tech heavyweights Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony and Ericsson, then leveraged the properties against Google and seven Android handset makers in an October 2013 suit filed in Eastern District of Texas.
Looking to invalidate the very patents it unsuccessfully bid on just months earlier, Google lodged a countersuit against Rockstar in California. Aside from arguing non-infringement, the move was a tactical one meant to bring jurisdiction back to the West Coast.
Rockstar filed a motion to dismiss the California case, or otherwise transfer proceedings to Texas where the consortium has an office. It should be noted that the co-plaintiff in Rockstar's case, MobileStar, also has a presence in Texas.
However, as noted by ArsTechnica, Judge Wilken's was not persuaded by Rockstar's defense in the California action.
From Judge Wilken's order:
[...] the circumstances here strongly suggest that Rockstar formed MobileStar as a sham entity for the sole purpose of avoiding jurisdiction in all other fora except MobileStar's state of incorporation (Delaware) and claimed principal place of business (Texas). A mere day before it initiated litigation against Google's customers, Rockstar freshly minted MobileStar, with no California contacts, and assigned the asserted patents to that subsidiary. [...] Other evidence suggesting MobileStar maintains no independent identity is the fact that all MobileStar employees also work for Rockstar.
The jurist agreed with Google's assertions that Apple's business interests are directly linked with Rockstar, meaning correct jurisdiction would be in California, where both companies are headquartered. Judge Wilken also shot down Rockstar's attempt to claim Texas as more convenient for parties involved, an argument based on the consortium's base of operations in Canada