American patent risk management company, RPX Corp., entered into an agreement to acquire around 4,000 patents owned by Rockstar, a consortium led by Apple Inc. and other firms for US$ 900M. Rockstar was created as a patent holding entity in 2011 by technology bigwigs like Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony and Ericsson, with the intent of purchasing the 6,000 patents from the Nortel Network Corp., for US$ 4.5B, following its bankruptcy. About 2,000 of the most valuable patents have already been distributed to Rockstar stakeholders.
The consortium has since filed a number of patent infringement lawsuits against companies including Google, which was attacked for its Android mobile operating system. In addition to Google, Rockstar has also filed patent suits against Cisco, LG, HTC, Samsung, Huawei, Asus, Pantech, and ZTE. In November, 2014, Rockstar settled its lawsuits against Google and Cisco. In early November, Cisco had disclosed to its investors that in order to settle the Rockstar lawsuit, it had recorded a pretax charge of US$ 188M. This deal with RPX will draw to a close all lawsuits filed by Rockstar including those against Samsung, HTC, LG and Huawei Technologies. RPX now plans to license these patents to a group of over 30 tech companies, including Google and Cisco.
John Amster, the chief executive officer of RPX said in a statement, “I think people have started to realize that licensing, not litigation, is the best way to make use of patents, and this deal is a significant acknowledgment of that reality.” He stated, “We are pleased to act as clearinghouse and underwrite an agreement between the owners of Rockstar and our syndicate of licenses”.
This deal is extremely significant for RPX, which since its inception in 2008, has offered protection to companies from patent trolls. RPX does not use its patents to file lawsuits, but provides the access of its intellectual property to around 200 of its client members. Prior to this acquisition, RPX had invested US$ 890M to obtain over 4,900 patents.