BT wades into patent war with Android lawsuit

UK incumbent BT has taken legal action against Google for alleged patent infringement. The two firms have commenced legal proceedings in the US District Court of Delaware.

BT said that it is taking action due to Google’s “ongoing and pervasive” infringement of its patents, relating to technologies which underpin location-based services, navigation and guidance information and personalised access to services and content. 

It is seeking royalties and triple damages, as it claims that the patent infringement has been “willful and deliberate”. It also wants Google to pay for all of its legal costs.

“BT’s constant investment in innovation has seen it develop a large portfolio of patents which are valuable corporate assets,” the firm told in an emailed statement.

The company said that it has a total worldwide portfolio of around 5,600 patents and applications and claims to have spent more than £5bn ($7.74bn) on research and development over the past five years. During the 2010-2011 financial year, BT filed for patent protection on 62 inventions.

“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,” the firm continued.

“We have invested heavily over the last twenty years, notably on mobility and related network services technologies, which BT recognised early on would revolutionise the way people communicate.”

Although the lawsuit is being held in the US, it is widely suspected that BT will take the complaint into other countries as well.

Google denies infringing upon BT’s patents and vowed to fight its corner in the courtroom.

“We believe these claims are without merit, and we will defend vigorously against them,” a Google spokesperson told

The news comes as yet another blow for Google and its Android ecosystem partners. The firm has been embroiled in legal disputes over patent infringements with Apple and Microsoft, and its takeover of Motorola Mobility – which is purportedly acquiring to use the firm’s patents as ammunition in such disputes – has hit a stumbling block as the European Commission (EC) has suspended its review of the merger last week.

Apple recently failed to secure a ban on a Samsung Android tablet – the Galaxy Tab 10.1 – in Australia, after an Australian High Court rejected an appeal to keep the device off shelves. It was also denied a preliminary injunction to block the sale of Samsung’s touchscreen smartphones and tablets in the US. Meanwhile, Motorola Mobility recently won a ruling in a German court against Apple that could see Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices banned in the country, although Samsung lost out in its attempts to ban sales of Apple’s iPhone 4S device in France.

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