Apple and Microsoft led 'Rockstar' consortium sues Google, Samsung, HTC and more

A new patent war started this week as a consortium known as 'Rockstar' launched a barrage of lawsuits against big name companies including Google, Samsung, HTC and Huawei.

And who is behind this mystery consortium trying to take on such big patent battle hardened veterans? Well, some formidable opponents - a rather strange alliance of rivals Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony.

Yes, you read that right. In 2011, the Rockstar consortium formed by the aforementioned giants outbid Google to buy a number of patents held by Nortel for a whopping $4.5 billion (£2.8 billion) when the telecoms firm filed for bankruptcy.

Google seems to be the group's biggest target, with the company accused of wilfully infringing on seven patents. The patents are concerned with technology that works to aid targeting advertising, possibly the most integral part of Google's advertising business.

"Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," the lawsuit said. As well as Google, Samsung, HTC and Huawei, Rockstar is also suing four other smaller firms.

This new front seems to be simply an extension of existing wars between the giants. Apple and Samsung pretty much constantly have a patent suit ongoing against each other, while Ericsson has sued Samsung in the past.

Apple is also fighting Motorola Mobility in the courts, the firm Google bought after its failed Nortel bid. Microsoft and Apple, despite their fierce computing rivalry haven't actually taken each other to court over copyright or patent infringement since the nineties, although there has been some complaints over advertising.

Samsung, Huawei and HTC's smartphones run on Google's Android OS, all of which are in fierce competition with Apple and Windows mobile products.