A year ago Apple teamed up with Microsoft, RIM, and Sony to form Rockstar Consortium to bid on (and later successfully buy) over 6000 patents from Nortel. The group paid $4.5B for the patents (Apple chipped in $2.6B or almost half the cash) and now Apple has been buying the patents outright from the consortium. Why? To use as legal weapons.
What seems like an update of little note, could actually help Apple in its patent fights with Samsung, Google, and others:
But getting full rights to the patent likely helps Apple use the patents offensively in its ongoing lawsuits. If you do not own a patent, but merely have licensed it, you can’t go out and sue someone for using the patent. Having outright ownership of a patent allows Apple to use the patents offensively.
Since a judge just ruled that Samsung and include the iPhone 5 in its case against Apple and Apple can include the Galaxy Note and Jellybean in its case:
Samsung Electronics Co. can add the iPhone 5 to its patent-infringement claims against Apple Inc. (AAPL), and Apple can add infringement claims against the Samsung Galaxy Note, the U.S. version of the Galaxy S III and the Jelly Bean operating system, a federal judge ruled.
Apple will almost certainly be tapping into this store of patents. And if not against Samsung, Motorola (since many of Nortel’s patents were communications related).
Like it or not, this is how the patent wars are fought. Buy patents from other folks that you can use against each other. I suspect, since Samsung has no intention of settling with Apple, this is going to be a long and bloody fight.
Scales of Justice by mikecogh from Flickr.