British Telecom sues Google over Android (and almost everything else)

Summary:The world's oldest telecoms company, BT, is suing Google over... well, pretty much everything, from Android to Google Maps, and even at the core of the company: Google Search.

British Telecoms (BT) has become the fifth major technology company to bring a patent infringement case against Google, as the company seeks unspecified damages and an injunction.

Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and eBay have previously taken shots at the search giant over patents of a similar nature.

The suit, filed with a U.S. District Court in Delaware, claims that a wide array of Google's services violate a patent held by the telecoms, affecting Google Search, Google Music, and the Android Market. Even Google Maps and social network Google+ is not immune to the claim.

BT will not be an easy challenger to face in the courts. Having said that, it could go the same was as its fateful 'hyperlink case' went at the turn of the century.

(Source: Flickr)

Not only does BT hold the title as the world's oldest telecoms company, its patent collection holds more than 10,000 patents, according to the court document.

The patents infringed includes a "navigation information system" in which Google Maps' user location feature is in the crosshairs, as well as the seemingly more generic "communications node for providing network based information service", where BT complains that the very foundation stones of the Android Market infringe its patents.

From the court papers, it seems BT had previously sought to license the patents, but Google had refused to pay.

Should BT prevail in its case against Google, the suit may force the search and mobile giant to change how it delivers the operating system to device manufacturers, according to FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller.

While Mueller is not aware of whether BT has filed a similar case in any European courts, he notes that Android is once again in the patent infringement spotlight.

"Android already had more than enough intellectual problems anyway. Now Google faces one more large organisation that believes its rights are infringed. BT probably wants to continue to be able to do business with all mobile device makers and therefore decided to sue Google itself", he said on his blog.

The complaint can be found here.

Speaking to sister site CNET, a Google spokesperson rejects BT's claims. "We believe these claims are without merit, and we will defend vigorously against them".

A BT spokesperson was unavailable for comment, probably because it's past midnight here on a Monday morning.

Even lawyers need to sleep. That is, if you're not working at News International.

Related:

Topics: Legal, Google

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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