(Adds background on case, quote from ruling)
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO, April 17 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday rejected a request by patent consortium Rockstar to transfer patent litigation from Google Inc’s home turf in California to Texas, according to a court ruling.
Rockstar, which counts Apple Inc as an investor, outbid Google and bought thousands of former Nortel patents from Nortel’s bankruptcy in 2011 for $4.5 billion. Last year, the consortium sued several handset manufacturers whose phones operate on Google’s Android operating system, which fiercely competes with Apple mobile products.
Rockstar filed its lawsuit in a Texas federal court, which is generally viewed as a friendly forum for patent owners. In a bid to move the litigation to Northern California, where its headquarters are, Google asked U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in December to rule that it hadn’t infringed the patents Rockstar sued over in Texas.
Rockstar filed papers to dismiss Google’s California case, arguing that the proper jurisdiction is in Texas.
However, in a ruling on Thursday, Wilken wrote that Apple and Rockstar are sufficiently linked for the case to remain in California. Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters a short distance from Google’s.
“Google demonstrates a direct link between Apple’s unique business interests, separate and apart from mere profitmaking,” Wilken wrote.
For instance, Rockstar’s patent litigation “advances Apple’s interest in interfering with Google’s Android business,” Wilken wrote.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. Representatives for Rockstar and Google could not immediately be reached.
The case is Google Inc v. Rockstar Consortium et al, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 13-5933. (Reporting by Dan Levine. Editing by Andre Grenon)