Rockstar Bidco, a consortium that includes companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, BlackBerry and Ericsson was formed back in 2011 with the aim of acquiring the vast patent portfolio of Nortel, a company which in its hay days employed nearly 100,000 people. The consortium had one big rival for the patent cache, Google, and it is now becoming obvious why the search giant wanted Nortel bad enough to offer up to $4.4 billion before dropping out of the race.
Seven of these patents strike at the very core of what made Google, and by far its biggest revenue stream: its search engine and advertising. The earliest of those dates to 1997, a year before Google was even founded, and AdWords in particular is going to be under fire.
In terms of the Android OEMs, the alleged patent infringements range from hardware, through graphical interface and the navigating of it, down to some network protocols.
This is purely speculative, but a number of people consider Google's subsequent Motorola acquisition to be related to the loss of Nortel's treasure troves of patents (about 6,000 of those!). The idea being that apart from getting its very own hardware company, it's also getting ownership of Motorola's vast portfolio of intellectual property. Google was probably hoping that such a situation would lead to a stalemate, as both sides would have more than enough valid lawsuits against each other. Doesn't seem like it, and the tricky part is that Google can't actually counter-sue the way Samsung did with Apple, since Rockstar doesn't really have any operations other than, apparently, patent trolling. Rockstar is technically an independent organization from Apple, Microsoft and the rest, though it's not too hard to imagine that Google might decide to go for a counter-attack.
The scale of this new development is impossible to gauge just yet (and probably not for a while, as these things always go down slowly), but there's the possibility of it dwarfing Apple's $1 billion worth of victory against Samsung in recent months. Unfortunately for Google, it'll have a pretty hard time defending itself in court, seeing as how close it was to actually assimilating Nortel's intellectual assets, and for a price, too. Rockstars lawyers aren't blind to this fact, and are reportedly specifically mentioning this in their complaint.
More info as we get it, folks.