Patent wars: Tech giants sue Samsung and Google

Samsung phone models The success of Samsung's Galaxy range has seen it become the world's biggest-selling smartphone maker

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A group of tech giants known as the Rockstar Consortium is suing Google, Samsung, HTC and others over alleged mobile phone patent infringements.

Rockstar, jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony, is targeting manufacturers of phones that run the rival Google Android operating system.

Rockstar spent $4.5bn (£2.8bn) buying thousands of Nortel patents after the telecoms giant went bankrupt in 2009.

Google lost out in the bidding war.

The Rockstar lawsuit claims Google has infringed seven patents relating to the way internet search terms match up with relevant advertising.

Dominance

The move is just the latest in a number of mobile device patent cases being fought across the world, as technology behemoths fight for dominance of the lucrative smartphone, tablet and games console markets.

Google's Android has been doing particularly well, largely thanks to the success of Samsung's Galaxy range of smartphones.

Android devices accounted for 81.3% of smartphone shipments in the third quarter of 2013, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, compared with 13.4% for Apple iOS and 4.1% for Windows Phone.

This week, Nokia, whose mobile devices division is being bought by Microsoft, won a patent victory over HTC that could see the Taiwanese company's HTC One smartphone being banned from import into the UK.

And earlier in October, Samsung offered to stop taking rivals to court over alleged patent infringements for a period of five years, after European Union authorities said the South Korean company's litigious actions were stifling competition.

Samsung faced a potential £11.3bn ($18.3bn) fine if found guilty of breaching European anti-trust laws.

Google's Motorola Mobility, which the search giant bought for $12.5bn, has also been accused of similar anti-competitive behaviour.

Samsung and Apple are currently slugging it out in the courts of more than 10 countries across Europe.

Cross-licensing

But some senior technology experts believes the legal conflict is bad for consumers.

In an interview with the BBC's Click programme to be broadcast on Saturday, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says: "There are good things I see on Samsung phones that I wish were in my iPhone; I wish Apple would use them, and could use them, and I don't know if Samsung would stop us.

"I wish everybody just did a lot of cross-licensing and sharing the good technology; all our products would be better, we'd go further.

"I do kind of wish they were more compatible."

But the Rockstar Consortium's legal action suggests such a rapprochement in the global patent wars is still a long way off.

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