BT sues Google over alleged patent infringement

The British telecoms giant says widely used products ranging from Android to Google Maps and Google Search infringe on BT's intellectual property

BT is suing Google in the US over the alleged infringement of BT patents in many of Google's fixed and mobile mainstream products, including Google Search, AdWords and Android.

BT centre

BT has launched a lawsuit against Google in the US, claiming it has infringed on a number of its patents. Photo credit: BT

The suit was filed on Thursday in Delaware. The British telecommunications giant is seeking damages, measured at "no less than a reasonable royalty" then trebled due to Google's alleged "wilful and deliberate" infringement, plus costs and an injunction against future infringement. The court will determine any damages.

"BT can confirm that it has commenced legal proceedings against Google, Inc by filing a claim with the US District Court of Delaware for patent infringement," BT said on Monday. "The patents in question relate to technologies which underpin location-based services, navigation and guidance information, and personalised access to services and content."

A Google spokesperson said the company believes BT's claims are "without merit" and will "defend vigorously against them".

A large number of Google's flagship products are listed in the suit as infringing on one or more of the six cited BT patents. Google's search engines, Android, AdMob, AdSense, AdWords, AdWords Express, DoubleClick, Gmail, Google+, Google Books, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Offers and Google Places are all allegedly infringing.

The suit makes BT the latest in a long line of major companies to sue over the Android operating system's alleged patent infringement. Apple is suing a variety of Android device manufacturers including Samsung and HTC; the latter is defending itself using Google's own patents. Motorola — in the process of being bought by Google — is being sued by Apple and Microsoft. Oracle and eBay are suing Google directly.

Patents under dispute

In the suit, BT names the relevant patents according to their lead inventors, most of whom were working at the company's Adastral Park research and development facilities. BT says "extensive work" in the fields of mobility and related network services during the 1990s led to all the patents in the suit.

The Busuioc patent is allegedly infringed in Android and Google Music. This patent covers systems and methods for figuring out whether a particular service is available or unavailable to the user, depending on whether the user is connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network.

The Mannings 1 patent covers a navigation system with fixed and mobile parts. It is supposedly infringed in Google Maps, as is the Mannings 2 patent, which is also navigation-related and deals with providing information to a mobile user.

Google Maps, desktop and mobile Google Search, Google Places, Google's location-based advertising, Google Offers and Google+ all allegedly infringe on the Titmuss 1 patent, which covers the provision of location-based information. The Titmuss 2 patent, apparently infringed in Google Maps and Google Maps Navigation, also covers the storage and retrieval of location-based information.

Finally, BT says the Gittins patent is infringed in the Android Market, Google Books and Google Music. This patent describes how log-in identities can be used to determine which apps or content a user can get.

ZDNet UK has asked BT why it has chosen to sue Google now rather than earlier, but had not received an explanation at the time of writing.

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