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

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.

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TOPICS: Legal, Google
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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.

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Topics: Legal, Google

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13 comments
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  • It's a sue happy world

    Welcome to but one more resplendent staple of predatory capitalism.
    klumper
    • RE: British Telecom sues Google over Android (and almost everything else)

      @klumper
      BT was instigated against google by the axis of evil software: Apple, M$ & Oracle. There is no merit to those frivolous claims!
      The Linux Geek
      • Like I said, it's a sue happy wretched world

        @The Linux Geek <br><br>Whether justified or not, it never stops these modern, sue happy predators from trying, as greed knows no bounds. This applies likewise to every party you mentioned.
        klumper
  • RE: British Telecom sues Google over Android (and almost everything else)

    Google with its pirated array of products should either shut down or pay up for others IP it uses in its products.

    A lot of new generation ( some people call them Generation Y - which is uttery stupid) users thinks that they can use everything on the internet or mobile for free. Such thoughts are against realilty and companies like google feeds these thoughts. Its takes hunderds of millions of dollars and millions of hours to develop quality software.

    Companies like google which has no regard for IP, thinks they can r*pe others IP and then use political influence and money to get away with it. This is utterly deplorable.

    Pay up and shut down the pirate and drug business.
    owlnet
    • Software Patents

      @owlnet Do you think it is OK for those companies that create patents that they never use or allow anyone else to use? These companies hold back innovation and jobs by suing everyone for a vague patented idea they have no intention of using.
      ben.rattigan
      • RE: British Telecom sues Google over Android (and almost everything else)

        @ben.rattigan
        If they made legitimate efforts to license these patents at reasonable rates and were shunned, then absolutely, yes.

        If not, then no. BT claims they did. The courts will decide.

        Sitting on patents with no intention to ever use or license them is actually illegal, you know, and results in the invalidation of the patent.
        x I'm tc
  • RE: British Telecom sues Google over Android (and almost everything else)

    I thought software related patents weren't valid in Europe?!
    Sam Granger
    • RE: British Telecom sues Google over Android (and almost everything else)

      @Sam Granger
      Remember, the suit was filed in a U.S. District Court in Delaware USA.
      Bill4
  • Could not file in the UK

    BT could not bring these complaints in the UK as software is not considered as something that can be patented. They would have to use existing copyright law against Google which just would never work.

    I think BT is just joining the bandwagon here, it is desperate for a new revenue stream as its traditional fixed line service which have always been its bread and butter die off. It is about time the Govt. split this company up so that Openreach which manages the infrastructure is fully independent.
    ben.rattigan
  • Software Patents

    The US Government needs to act here. Until the patenting of software is stopped then these problems will continue for some time. They stop innovation, destroy investment and keep the latest technology out of the hands of those who need it, damage jobs and hold back technology.<br><br>Now there is a whole industry of software patent squatters setting up the US, companies holding software patents that are only ever used to bring legal suits.
    ben.rattigan
  • Utterly Ridiculous

    "One example of an alleged infringement is Android's ability to allow a music download if a smartphone is connected to a wi-fi network, but to prevent it when the device only has access to a 3G data link.

    Another example is Google Maps ability to make different information available at different levels of zoom"

    So we are patenting zoom now

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16243414
    Chipesh
  • What? They have more than 10,000 patents?

    Look for Google to buy them in 2012. Or next week.
    WebSiteManager
  • I've read the abstracts ...

    I've read the abstracts, granted it's the body of claims in the patent that you look at,... But based on just a cursory once over of the abstracts, I think Google will roll right over them. Nothing new or novel about the subjects they are patenting here... Plus the dates of the filings,... Mid to late nineties and early 2000s,... it had already been done for years before then... Prior art all over the place ... This is a nuisance suit...
    JasePow