Skyhook Wireless Starts a Third Suit Against Google

Posted by at 11:55 am on September 24, 2012

Geolocation company Skyhook Wireless has filed suit in Delaware against Google’s Maps service. The suit is the third against the search engine by Skyhook Wireless in as many years. The new suit alleges infringement of nine Wi-Fi geographical location patents by Android and Google Maps. “There was a time when Google tried to compete fairly with Skyhook, but once Google realized its positioning technology was not competitive, it chose other means to undermine Skyhook and damage and attempt to destroy its position in the marketplace for location positioning technology,” said Skyhook in a previous court filing.

Skyhook Wireless alleges willful infringement, given existing business relationships in place in 2006 and 2007. The previous lawsuits against Google showed that a set of messages from the ongoing Skyhook lawsuit against Google may have supported Skyhook’s claims that Google was abusing its control over Android to shut out competing services. After a brief test that it believed proved Google’s own geolocation was better than Skyhook’s, Android product manager Steve Lee and others concluded that Skyhook’s then-new deal with Motorola was dangerous for Google’s business. The company was worried that it would cut off the improvement of Android’s location database accuracy and looked like it began seeding concerns about compatibility primarily in a bid to get Skyhook’s competition out.

Whether or not Skyhook had been the victim of anti-competitive behavior from Google as claimed in the multiple suits was murkier. While Google’s messages had shown it using compatibility to force companies to achieve its own ends — such as filling in its location database — circumstances also suggested Skyhook may have run more solidly afoul of limits. Google was never shown code changes Skyhook made to try to comply, and its system refused to send location data to Google. The company had been willing to take Skyhook but wanted it “fixed” to fit Google’s location desires. All of the suits in Massachusetts are still underway.

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