BT Sues Google Claiming Android Patent Infringements

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A patent lawsuit by BT against Google’s Android software seeks an injunction as well as damages

BT has joined the list of companies lining up patent-infringement lawsuits against Google’s Android mobile operating system, with an action filed in the United States last week.

The lawsuit, filed in a Delaware court on Thursday, seeks an injunction as well as damages, which could be tripled if Google is found to have wilfully and deliberately infringed.


“BT brings this action to recover the just compensation it is owed and to prevent Google from continuing to benefit from BT’s inventions without authorisation,” BT said in the lawsuit.

Android is being targeted by several other major companies, notably Apple and Microsoft, but so far these actions have mostly focused on device manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC.

Microsoft has successfully used legal action threats to sign up a number of device manufacturers to pay royalties for alleged Android patent infringements.

The six patents affect Google software running on Android devices, including Google Music, Google Maps and the Android Market, according to BT.

Non-Android software is also included in the lawsuit. For instance, BT alleges that one of the patents, covering the transmission of “shortlists of sources of information dependent upon the location of a user”, is infringed by products including Google’s main search engine, the location-based advertising platform Places, the discount service Google Offers and the Google+ social network.

“Android already had more than enough intellectual problems anyway. Now Google faces one more large organisation that believes its rights are infringed,” said patent analyst Florian Mueller in a blog post.


He speculated that suing Google directly is a way of allowing BT to continue to do business with mobile device makers.

“With so many major patent holders asserting their rights, obligations to pay royalties may force Google to change its Android licensing model and pass royalties on to device makers,” Mueller wrote. He said BT could also file litigation in Europe over the local equivalents of its US patents.

“It would certainly make sense to take advantage of the swift and rather patent holder-friendly decisions taken by certain German courts in order to get Google to pay sooner rather than later,” he wrote.

Google is currently finalising its acquisition of handset maker Motorola Mobility, which would give the company a patent arsenal to help it stave off Android intellectual property lawsuits.

This is not the first time BT has asserted its intellectual property rights on cutting-edge technology. The company notably sued US ISP Prodigy in 2000 arguing that it had invented the hyperlink, but a judge rejected the claim.

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