BT sues Google over patent infringement

Google Maps, Music and Android operating system all infringe BT patents, UK telco alleges

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BT has filed a lawsuit against Google in a US court,claiming that some of the web giant's products infringe six separate BT patents covering location-based services. The suit, first reported by FOSS patents blog, was filed on Thursday last week.

Most of Google's best known products are named in the lawsuit as infringing BT patents, including Google Maps, Search, AdWords, Places, Offers, Books and the Android Market. If it is successful, Google may have to pay BT royalties for the products in question.

Some of the patents that Google is alleged to have infringed date back over twenty years old.

One patent, named the "Busuioc patent", outlines a method using for data across varying networks, for example setting a device to only download large files using WiFi, not 3G. It is claimed that Google includes uses this method the Android operating system.

Another is "Mannings 1 Patent", which BT describes as allowing users to access mapping information from a database over the internet, "rather than requiring a user to rely upon previously created geographical information such as might have been loaded onto a CD-ROM in a mobile computer".

Other patents refer to Google's alleged use of BT's technology for "providing a network-based information service…by storing customer identities", "generating and transmitting shortlists of information dependent upon the location of the user", and providing navigation information which depends upon "the physical characteristics of the vehicle…(e.g. bicycle or car)".

Google is now being sued by six large public companies – Oracle, eBay, Apple, Microsoft, secure card provider Gemalto and BT. The FOSS patents blog notes that royalties from successful suits could force Google to change its licensing model for Android, passing on royalty fees to the device makers.

"We have commenced legal proceedings against Google, Inc. by filing a claim with the U.S. District Court of Delaware for patent infringement," a BT spokesperson said. "This is about protecting BT’s investment in its intellectual property rights and innovation. It is a well-considered claim and we believe there is a strong case of infringement."

"We believe these claims are without merit, and we will defend vigorously against them," said a Google spokesperson in a statement.