Monday, December 19, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, December 19, 2011, 11:50 AM
British Telecom Drops Patent Bomb On GoogleBBC News

The patent wars continue as British Telecom is claiming billions of dollars in damages from Google. In a lawsuit filed in the United States, BT claims that Google’s Android mobile operating system infringes a number of the telecoms company's key patents.

“The British company's complaints centre on technologies at the core of Google's Android mobile system, search site, and a wide range of other services,” BBC News reports. 

“The lawsuit … relates to six patents which BT says are infringed by the Google Maps, Google Music, location-based advertising and Android Market products on Android,” The Guardian writes. “If successful, the suit could mean that Google or mobile handset makers will have to pay BT royalties on each Android handset in use and which they produce.”

Google is now fending off lawsuits against Android from six large publicly-traded companies, including BT, Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, eBay and digital security company Gemalto.

“BT is not a mobile technology company per se, but it claims to have invested in mobile technologies and related services, and it believes it has a case against Google,” according to PCWorld.com. “BT maintains a portfolio of around 5600 patents when you combine both pending and awarded ones.”

What’s at stake? The Guardian reminds us that Android is presently the most successful smartphone platform in the world, with its handsets making more than 40% of sales, equating to more than 40 million produced every quarter. Google itself recently boasted that more than 500,000 Android devices are now activated daily.

“This is par for the course in mobile land,” writes AllThingsD. “And patents are the primary motivator in Google’s pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility; supposedly, the 25,000 patents Google would pick up in the deal will help protect it in legal fights just like these. Assuming antitrust regulators sign off on the deal.”

For Google’s part, a representative rejected BT's assertions, telling CNet: "We believe these claims are without merit, and we will defend vigorously against them."

Read the whole story...
  • Gavin O'Malley, December 19, 2011, 12:05 PM
  • Facebook knows that serving as a conduit between brands and consumers is a potentially lucrative business. Doing what it can to strengthen that position, the network is introducing a new feature to let business pages receive private messages from consumer fans. “The new communications option, which has appeared for Asia-based admins only so far -- although this could be down to time difference -- is a significant introduction that will allow businesses to interact more closely with customers on the service than ever before,” The Next Web explains. Consumer facing businesses could find the feature especially useful, TNW adds, because it encourages more personal communication with individual customers. “The move is also likely to cut down on the pain of off-topic comments on company pages and reduce communication lost when Facebook fans fail to take their comments to customer service channels outside of the social network,” TNW adds. Still, businesses shouldn’t add Facebook’s new feature to their marketing plans, as it’s not a two-way mode of communication. Consumers can contact businesses, but not the other way around.  Read the whole story...
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  • Just when marketers were adjusting to smartphones and tablets, hardware firms are already preparing the next killer screen. What will it look like? Well, pointing towards “wearable computers,” The New York Times writes: “The ultimate version of this technology is a screen that would somehow augment our vision with information and media.” Likely peripherals of some sort, both Apple and Google are secretly working on projects that will become wearable computers, NYT reports. Google researchers, for instance, are apparently working on peripherals that -- when attached to one’s clothing or body -- will communicate information back to an Android smartphone. Apple, meanwhile, has also experimented with prototypes that could relay information back to the iPhone, NYT tells us, explaining: “These conceptual products could also display information on other Apple devices, like an iPod, which Apple is already encouraging us to wear on our wrists by selling Nanos with watch faces.” One idea is a curved-glass iPod that would wrap around a consumers’ wrist, and could be used to communicate using Siri, Apple’s artificial intelligence software. And marketers thought squeezing banner ads onto a 3.5-inch iPhone screen was tough.  Read the whole story...