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This year has been without a doubt the year of lawsuits, with many high profile companies battling it out in courtrooms throughout the world over intellectual property and patent disputes. Barely a day goes by without Apple or Samsung hitting the headlines, and Google has found itself at the receiving end of numerous patent infringement claims regarding its mobile OS. Microsoft has been busy as well, penning multiple royalty agreements with various Android handset manufacturers, despite insiders questioning the validity of the claimed IP violations.
Now British Telecom, a UK-based telecommunications company has taken aim at Android with a lawsuit filed in the state of Delaware, accusing Google of ongoing and pervasive infringement of its patents, and demanding billions of dollars in compensation for the use of six of the firm's key patents.
The move by the British firm could also be repeated in Europe, adding yet another large corporation to the growing list that Google is now fighting off, including giants such as Apple, Oracle and Microsoft.
Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, a BT spokesperson claimed, "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."
If successful, they would be entitled to charge a royalty fee per handset sold, in much the same way Microsoft has already penned agreements with major players like HTC and Samsung. It is also possible that the company would be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings on existing handsets, which with Google's announcement in June that it is activating 500,000 handsets a day will likely run into billions of dollars.
Interestingly, according to the Guardian, many of the patents that BT alleges are infringed would also apply to almost all of Apple's iPod, iPhone and iPad range. Whether Apple has licensed the use of these patents is unknown, but the next couple of months could be interesting for the Cupertino-based giant should no arrangement be in place already.
A spokesperson for Google responded with a statement saying, "we believe these claims are without merit, and we will defend vigorously against them."