The Rockstar Consortium was formed in 2011 by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony to buy $4.5 billion worth of patents from Nortel, a large Canadian telecom company that had gone bankrupt two years earlier.
A bomb was dropped on the patent world last October when those patents were used to sue Google and other Android handset makers. In December, the Rockstar Consortium moved on to the cable industry, when its subsidiary Constellation Technologies LLC sued Time Warner (PDF), saying that its offering of high-speed data services infringes several Rockstar-owned patents.
The organization was clearly planning to sue more cable companies that offer Internet service, and now several of those companies have pushed back. Charter Communications and several smaller cable companies have sued Rockstar (PDF) in Delaware federal court, saying the patent-holding company has violated agreements made by Nortel to charge only “Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory” (FRAND) rates for its patents.

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