Article Image
Patent Suit Between BT and Google May Find Resolution in Mediation

Friday, February, 15, 2013


BT, a major British telecom corporation, is being sued by Google due to alleged patent infringement.  The lawsuit comes as no surprise to BT, who expected such retaliation due to their own lawsuit against Google that was filed in 2011.  However, both suits may be soon heading to mediation, according to a source at BT. 

Google's suit is aimed to resolve patents with origins from IBM and Fujitsu, several of which involve system resource reservation for quality assurance, as well as internet telephone gateways.  Google also alleges that BT has infringed on Google's products through their own wholesale offering of the same products, such as BT's OneVoice unified communication system. It is requesting that US courts force BT to pay damages for their infringement and cease the use of the technologies that allegedly infringe on Google's patents. 

The original lawsuit filed by British Telecom in Delaware courts alleged that Google infringed on six of its patents when it released its Android platform.  The action was on the heels of other legal actions filed against Google by Apple, Oracle, Microsoft and eBay—all of which also stemmed from the Android operating system.  Google’s reaction in most of the cases was a quick countersuit involving its own accusations of patent infringement. 

BT’s particular lawsuit focuses on some of the core technology behind Android’s system, including Google Search, Google Maps, and advertising based on the consumer’s GPS location.  When filing the lawsuit, a BT spokesman stated, "The patents in question relate to technologies which underpin location-based services, navigation and guidance information and personalised access to services and content.  BT's constant investment in innovation has seen it develop a large portfolio of patents which are valuable corporate assets."

Google was caught in a difficult struggle at the time BT filed the lawsuit (2011), since it was attempting to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Motorola.  That takeover, combined with the host of additional lawsuits that had been filed against Google based on its Android operating system, left the company in a precarious position to deal with BT’s additional lawsuit. 

Regarding Google’s own lawsuit against BT, Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google, stated, "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."

The act of “patent trolling” to which Fenwick referred involves searching online vaults for patents that may predate current technology but could be used to win current legal disputes