Google, Rockstar to bury zombie Nortel patent lawsuit

Ceasefire called in anti-Android skirmish

Google has reportedly laid to rest its long-running squabble with zombie patent supertroll Rockstar, although terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Rockstar is the puerile moniker given to the consortium formed by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony, which pooled their resources in 2011 to buy the patent portfolio of bankrupt Nortel for $4.5bn.

The all-star group outbid Google for the patents, then promptly resurrected them and started suing the online giant and its Android smartphone partners, claiming that phones based on the mobile OS infringed on Rockstar's newly acquired intellectual property.

The Chocolate Factory has been battling back and forth with Rockstar in the courts ever since, seeking both to clear its own name and to shield its partners from future lawsuits. But that struggle now appears to be coming to an end, according to a document [PDF] filed on Monday with the US District Court of the Eastern District of Texas.

The filing states that "a binding Term Sheet was executed that settles, in principle, all matters in controversy between the parties."

Furthermore, Google and Rockstar have jointly requested that all deadlines in the case be put off until December 29, to give them time to winnow the preliminary settlement agreement into a definitive one to be presented to the court.

"This period ... is necessary due to the complexity of the transaction and the number of additional parties whose claims are concurrently being resolved," the document states.

Those "additional parties" are likely to be Android smartphone makers. At the same time that it sued Google, Rockstar also asserted its zombie Nortel patents against Asus, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE, and it's not clear whether any of those suits have been settled.

It's also not known what Google might have to pay to license Rockstar's patents, but it's liable to be a pretty penny. Earlier this week, networking gear maker Cisco revealed in a quarterly earnings call that it expects to pay $188m to settle its own legal dispute with Rockstar.

Even that settlement won't get Cisco out of the woods, though. Spherix, another troll firm that bought a parcel of Rockstar's Nortel patents in January, has vowed to press on with its own lawsuit against the networking titan, saying, "the scope of Cisco's infringement of the asserted patents has been and continues to be immense."

It seems some zombies are harder to kill than others. ®

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