Google is suing the BT group in a Californian federal court over claims the British telecoms company has violated four of the internet giant’s technology patents.
The legal battle between the two companies began when BT filed its own lawsuit against Google for six mobile technology patent infringements in 2011. Concerning BT’s issues with the Android OS, Gmail and Google Maps services, the original lawsuit is still ongoing in a Delaware court in the US.
“We have always seen litigation as a last resort and we work hard to avoid lawsuits,” said Google spokeswoman, Niki Fenwick, in an email to Reuters. “But BT has brought several meritless patent claims against Google and our customers – and they’ve also been arming patent trolls.”
The so-called “patent trolls” Google refers to are companies that acquire patents for their customers with the sole purpose of using them to later extract settlements from other companies on infringement claims.
BT has said it will not be commenting on any litigation pending against the company, which now also faces a separate lawsuit against it by Google in a UK court.
This is the first time Google has launched a lawsuit in its own name, having previously hidden behind the company names of its subsidiaries. The Google company, Motorola Mobility, has already been involved in legal battles with Apple and Microsoft over smartphone technologies, with a good majority of the actions taken launched after Google acquired the company in May last year.
Google has been openly critical of escalating patent lawsuits filed by rival companies, but sees suing BT as a defence tactic. “When faced with these kinds of actions, we will defend ourselves,” added Fenwick.
Writing in a blog post in 2011, Google’s General Counsel said: “The tech world has recently seen an explosion in patent litigation, often involving low-quality software patents, which threatens to stifle innovation.”
BT and Google will be meeting in a Delaware court for a mediation hearing concerning the original 2011 case. As far as it is known, a court date for the lawsuit brought by Google has not yet been set.
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