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Apple had no say in Rockstar's decision to sue Google

Three weeks ago, we reported that Rockstar, a consortium backed by companies like Apple and Microsoft, sued Google and a host of other companies for patent infringement. As a quick primer, the Rockstar consortium in June of 2011 jointly bid US$4.4 billion in an auction for more than 6,000 Nortel patents. Google was also a participant in the auction, but backed down once bidding hit the $4 billion mark.

As for the suit itself, Rockstar is suing Google over patented technology that helps map relevant advertisements to corresponding internet search terms. Put simply, the suit is going after Google's prime money-maker.

As one would expect, news that Rockstar was going after Google evoked a lot of ire from folks who assumed that the patents obtained by the consortium would only be used for defensive purposes. Indeed, many were quick to call out Rockstar for being nothing more than a money-hungry patent troll while expressing disappointment in Apple for being party to the proceedings.

For instance, Matt Drance of AppleOutsider wrote:

I've said this multiple times in the past, and I'll say it again: I don't like this game. Rockstar looks, smells and now acts like countless NPE's that have done more harm than good -- namely Lodsys, which has been aggressively harassing Apple's own ecosystem. It's extremely disappointing to see Apple facilitate this kind of behavior.

But as it turns out, it appears that Rockstar filed the suit against Google with no input from any of its shareholders; a grouping that includes Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericcson and Sony.

In an interview with Intellectual Asset Management, Rockstar CEO (and former Nortel IP chief) John Veschi expressed a bit of surprise that the lawsuit against Google generated as much press as it did. Veschi also emphasized that the decision to go after Google was not made at the behest of Apple or any of the other shareholders.

Given the amount they paid and given the on-going issues at least some of them have with both Google and the Android platform, many reports have talked about the consortium going on the attack or have assumed that it is the shareholders that have driven things.

This is categorically not the case, Veschi says. "It was entirely my call based on the facts in front of me," he states. "The shareholders got an email telling them what had happened after the suits were issued."

Previously, Veschi has made a point of stating that Apple and co. are merely shareholders and the relationship between them and Rockstar is "distant."

"I understand that it might be sexy to say that they are pulling the strings," Veschi explains, "but actually it is also slightly insulting to us. We are running the business. We do that job and they do their jobs and that's it."

While some might not buy the story Veschi is selling, Veschi adamantly maintains that none of Rockstar's shareholders influence, in any way, who Rockstar chooses to go after.

If you'd like to read more about Veschi and the Rockstar operation, there's an interesting and informative interview with him up on Rockstar's website where talks about all things licensing along with Rockstar's underlying business philosophy.

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