Did Google steal the idea for Project Loon? This company thinks so

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,807   +124
Staff member

A company by the name of Space Data Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Google in which it alleges the search giant stole the idea for Project Loon following a meeting between the two nearly a decade ago.

The suit, filed earlier this week in Northern California District Court, points to two patents that Project Loon allegedly infringes on – one related to a network of balloons that provide wireless connectivity and another pertaining to how balloons in commission are taken out of service and recovered. The patents were filed in 1999 and 2001, respectively, easily predating Project Loon.

As The Verge explains, the complaint goes far deeper than patents as Google was apparently plenty familiar with Space Data and its technology before work on Project Loon got started.

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, along with as many as 10 other executives, are said to have visited Space Data’s headquarters in February 2008. Google employees were allegedly asked to sign non-disclosure agreements ahead of the meeting. The Wall Street Journal even ran a story on the matter which prompted rumors that an acquisition may have been in the works. That never happened and a few years later, Google’s X lab started working on Project Loon.

Two products listed on Space Data’s website, SkySat and SkySite, are balloons that assist in wireless data communications over hundreds of miles.

Google declined to comment on the matter when reached by The Verge.

What’s unclear at this hour is why Space Data waited so long to file its complaint.

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Cycloid Torus

Posts: 4,675   +1,484
Project Loon reminds me of an idea (and patents) from an engineer in the Bridgeport CT area - dating back to about 1988.


Posts: 3,214   +1,467
What’s unclear at this hour is why Space Data waited so long to file its complaint.
Who knows... but I heard that Led Zeppelin is being sued currently for stealing the opening riff to Stairway to Heaven from a band that used to open for them. If you hear the other band's tune - it's really obvious.

Maybe because you can't sue before it's being used. is project loon being used? Good question though.

Google probably stole it because they figured they could get away with it, or just pay the settlement. Even Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from his Harvard buddies (ex-buddies I guess now). Google can afford to pay a licensing fee.

The problem for Space Data Corp is that these lawsuits usually sue for a portion of the revenues from the stolen idea. If your idea is used in an iPhone, that's a whole ton of money. But Google probably won't make anything off the balloons - they only connect people to make money off them through their other internet services. So how much can Space Data actually get?