A bid by Samsung Electronics to get a Texas court to dismiss a patent infringement complaint by Apple-backed Rockstar was rejected after the judge decided Thursday that a Rockstar subsidiary had standing to sue.
U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall division also ruled against Samsung's argument that one of seven charges of alleged patent infringements should be dismissed as the subject matter of the claim was unpatentable.
Backed by Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony, Rockstar acquired Nortel Networks' patents for US$4.5 billion after outbidding Google in 2011. Rockstar filed the suits in Texas in October against Samsung, HTC and five other companies. The seven Google partner companies are accused of infringing some or all of the seven patents.
In a separate action, Google asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to rule that it does not directly or indirectly infringe the seven patents of Rockstar. The Internet company claimed that the Texas lawsuits by Rockstar, among other things, threatened Google's business and relationships with its customers and partners and its sales of Nexus-branded Android devices, and created a "justiciable" dispute between Google and Rockstar.
Samsung cited local Texas law to claim that the Rockstar subsidiary Mobilestar Technologies lacked standing to sue in the Texas court because it failed to register as a foreign corporation doing business in Texas.
Texas law requires foreign entities, which includes out-of-state entities, to register with its Secretary of State and to maintain its registration while transacting business in the state. Though the suit was filed in the Texas court on Oct. 31, 2013, Mobilestar, which was formed as a Delaware limited liability corporation a day before the suit was filed, did not register with the Texas Secretary of State until Dec. 2, 2013, according to the court order.
Mobilestar and Rockstar own the patents in the suit and are jointly plaintiffs against Samsung.
Pointing out that the Texas statute limits the registration requirement to state causes of action, Judge Gilstrap wrote that it is hard to see how a federal court adjudicating an action arising out of federal law can be considered a "Court 'of' the State of Texas."
Disputes over court jurisdictions have dogged the Rockstar litigation. The California court upheld Google's claim that the court had jurisdiction in the company's request for a ruling that it did not infringe the Rockstar patents. Rockstar, which created Mobilestar Technologies with principal place of business in Plano, Texas a day ahead of filing its lawsuits, tried to get that case dismissed or moved to the Texas court, which is generally seen as being more friendly to holders of patents.(