IP licensing firm SimpleAir wants $125M in damages from Google

IP licensing firm SimpleAir wants $125M in damages from Google

Summary: The jury actually came up with a decision last Saturday. However, the catch is that the voting was not unanimous in every regard.


SimpleAir, a licensing company for intellectual property in the mobile and wireless content delivery space, has scored a major legal victory over Internet giant Google.

A federal jury at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas came back with a verdict in favor of the inventor-owned firm, finding that that Google infringed upon one of SimpleAir's patent portfolio.

The patent in question is U.S. Patent No. 7,035,914, defined as "a system and method for data communication connecting on-line networks with on-line and off-line computers."

SimpleAir argued that Google infringed upon at least five of the claims in the patent by implementing the technology in push notifications on Android smartphones and tablets -- specifically via Google Cloud Messaging and Android Cloud to Device Messaging.

That includes notifications from some very widely-used apps, such as Gmail and Facebook.

The jury actually came up with a decision last Saturday. However, it was not entirely smooth sailing for SimpleAir.

The jury agreed unanimously on all counts of infringement and that each claim was valid. But the jury could not come to a unified decision on damages.

Thus, SimpleAir announced on Wednesday that it would be seeking approximately $125 million in damages from the Mountain View, Calif.-headquartered corporation.

SimpleAir has said that it has at least eight patents in its portfolio, putting Apple alone in the spotlight on its website as a major licensee.

According to court documents, SimpleAir has been involved in a few patent-related suits lately. Aside from Google, other opponents have included Google subsidiaries Motorola Mobility and YouTube as well as Microsoft and Huawei.

Topics: Legal, Android, Google, Patents, Web development

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  • when would this craziness end?

    Does anyone know what is the deal with "the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas" - it pops-up in almost all patent law suits? Did they find a way to bribe judges there? Do jurors get cutbacks?
    • re: when would this craziness end?

      " Perhaps because the district has a set of local rules for patent cases and relatively fast trial settings, patent plaintiffs have flocked to this small venue. In addition the proximity to larger cities (such as Dallas and Houston) along with an aging jury pool interested in protecting property rights, may attract patent cases to Marshall, Tyler, and Texarkana." - Wikipedia.

      Apparently a bunch of the IP trolls all maintain their shell offices in this one building near there. Also I've heard that the location is not ideal for litigation due to having to travel, which could be used as leverage.
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,035,914

    "The method claimed in claim 1, wherein said step of preprocessing data at said central broadcast server, further comprises the step of attaching to said preprocessed data an Internet address location of said preprocessed data for providing to users of said devices an automatic connection back to said information source for obtaining further information related to said preprocessed data."

    And on and on it goes. Complete gibberish.

    How a bunch of Texas laymen could possibly hope to understand what that patent even means is beyond me.
  • Apple

    So why did Apple pay off these trolls? Here's my theory: Apple alone among smartphone OS providers manufactures all of its own devices. By paying some pittance for this license they accomplish three things. 1) They insulate their entire device inventory and iOS ecosystem from claims by this particular troll. 2) They free up their expensive lawyers to focus on other issues. 3) They grant the patent Troll a high visibility licensee to promote in their legal actions against other companies.

    #3 is important, and the most Machiavellan element of their decision. By granting the troll a prominent licensee "Hey, Apple has agreed that our claim is valid!" they make it far more likely that a Jury will convict Google, Microsoft and any other Apple competitor they decide to go after.

    My guess is that Apple offered these guys for a perpetual license significantly less than what they are asking of Google and these guys agreed, knowing that it was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

    All this is speculation, mind you, but can you think of another reason why Apple would license such a nonsense patent claim?
  • Texas

    Hmm bright bunch of folks down there... roll eyes.
    Alan Smithie