Google slugs BT with four-patent countersuit after telco 'armed trolls'

Google slugs BT with four-patent countersuit after telco 'armed trolls'

Summary: Google is accusing BT of providing arms to a sea of patent trolls. With a patent suit, it's hoping to end them.

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Google has filed patent infringement suits against BT in the US and UK after the telco "armed patent trolls".

Google filed a complaint on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Central District of California over BT's alleged infringement of four patents, some of which Google has acquired recently from the likes of IBM and Fujitsu.

Details about Google's complaint against BT in the UK are expected to be available soon. The documents are not thought to be available yet as BT has not officially been served in the UK, ZDNet sister site CNET reported on Wednesday. Google's Motorola Mobility unit is also involved in the suit, according to Reuters.

The move follows BT's complaint against Google in the US District Court of Delaware in December 2011, which claimed over a dozen Google brands, from search and Google Maps to DoubleClick and Gmail, infringed on six of its patents.

BT's patent actions have forced it to countersue, Google said.

"We have always seen litigation as a last resort, and we work hard to avoid lawsuits. But BT has brought several meritless patent claims against Google and our customers — and they've also been arming patent trolls. When faced with these kind of actions, we will defend ourselves," Google said in a statement.

BT declined to comment on the matter.

"BT has brought several meritless patent claims against Google and our customers — and they've also been arming patent trolls" — Google

The four US patents Google is asserting against BT include Patent Nos. 5,581,703, 5,701,465, 6,801,166 B1 and 7,460,558 B2. Google's US complaint alleges a number of BT's US managed services and other voice products infringe on its patents.

Google's reference to "patent trolls" may be a reference to at least two suits it is caught up with either directly or via Motorola Mobility, over patents formerly held by BT.

Suffolk Technologies filed a complaint Google late last year based on patents BT previously owned, according to Reuters.

Another company, Steelhead Licensing, has used patents formerly held by BT to sue several Android device makers, including Google's Motorola Mobility, as well as Apple, RIM and several US carriers, according to Foss Patents blogger Florian Mueller.

Topics: Google, Patents, Telcos, BT, United Kingdom

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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7 comments
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  • Google IS the patent troll

    "Google filed a complaint on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Central District of California over BT's alleged infringement of four patents, some of which Google has acquired recently from the likes of IBM and Fujitsu."

    - How does this action make Google not a patent troll, and they accuse BT of patent infringement? If Google doesn't own patents, license it. If Google doesn't own patents, sorry don't try to be a tech company like IBM, Microsoft or Samsung.

    Google/ Motorola lost all the recent patent fights with Microsoft, and they apparently wanted 2.5 percent royalties. People in the industry knows that Google is just a pathetic patent trolls and crybabies who reached its current status thru illegal means and not thru technological innovations.
    Owlll1net
    • Re: How does this action make Google not a patent troll

      The fact that they're doing it to try to get BT off their backs.
      ldo17
  • How you say

    Company A buys pattent from cash strap company C and then turns are around and starts suing people over it. Company B then buys patent to defend itself not to sue directly but to have the power to fight back(sounds like the gun argument huh) the system is very much broken and all we are doing is wasting money and giving it to to an bunch of lawyers. I think if you buy a patent from another company before you can sue you have to act upon the patent and make it yours and have a grace period before they can start suing and even before that it has to go to mediation to work out a sensible deal. not one that says you owe us a billion dollars for our hard won total org patent that we developed .. wink wink.
    medric
  • What a waste of Money

    This is a shame, two entities that have created a lot of technological breakthroughs fighting and neither shall win really , hopefully they will sort this out without getting the courts involved as the only ones who benefit from these fight are the lawyers really.

    I can understand BT wanting to protect it's interests , especially as the US is going after so many businesses around the world with their trolling.

    Hopefully they will agree to share each others patents. BT is one of the oldest telephone companies and i am sure that some of their older patents could literally destroy Google if they used them.
    wunderboy
  • Google is a patent troll

    The corporation's sole reason for acquiring Motorola was to use its patents to attack legitimate rivals. So far these attempts have failed and backfired, e.g. they took on Microsoft using a spurious case based on Motorola patents and suffered a well-deserved humiliating defeat.

    The big difference between BT and Google in the UK and worldwide is that Google is a deeply evil corporation which avoids paying taxes through gross dishonesty so blatant that current laws did not anticipate any company being so ridiculous.

    The corporation has barely innovated anything for the real world for over a decade, and instead has been dining out on search with a pattern of acquisition and imitation instead of innovation.
    Tim Acheson
    • You have some very absolute opinions.

      A key difference between fact & opinon? Facts are messier & more complex.

      "The corporation's sole reason for acquiring Motorola..."
      - No. This was also a defensive legal move.

      "Google is a deeply evil corporation..."
      - I've seen evil. This isn't it. Perhaps you should provide a list of your favorite wholly innocent & beneficent international corporations.

      "... avoids paying taxes through gross dishonesty ..."
      - That means they broke the law? Except, they didn't? If the laws are deficient & poorly designed, are the laws being fixed? Google buys very good lawyers, but if the laws are "legal" and compently constructed, they obey.
      SlimSam
    • Re: to attack legitimate rivals

      So which "legitimate rivals" have they attacked so far?
      ldo17