Google Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over Google Talk

While doing some research, I’ve learned that Google is being sued for patent infringement over the VoIP portion of the Google Talk program. I’ve posted the full text (38 pages; PDF) of the complaint filed by Rates Technology in October here. A copy of the court docket (as of today) is posted here.

The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of New York.

The suit includes two causes of action for patent infringement against Google.

Rates Technology says that two patents they hold (awarded in 1995, 2001) for minimizing the cost of long distance calls using the Internet are being infringed upon by Google Talk. Copies of these two patents along with one more mentioned in the filing are included in the complaint.

Rates Technology is asking for a jury trial along with:
+ Enforcement of the patents
+ Damages including the loss of profits so provide a royalty
+ A preliminary injuction against Google
+ Attorney’s fees

So who is Rates Technology? That’s a good question. Finding substanative material on the open web is a challenge. However, a web search did turn up this excellent blog post from TMCnet publisher Rich Tehrani, that Rates Technology, a company Tehrani says, exists, “to collect revenue from other companies” has also sued Nortel, Sharp Electronics and others over patents it holds. The post also includes has a blurb from a December 7, 1998 WSJ story about the company and recent comments (April 2005) from Rates Technology CEO, Jerry Weinberger.

The blog post also mentions that Weinberger and Rates Technology have patent agreements in place with 700-800 companies and have litigated 25 times in 15 years.

According to the court docket both parties will meet with Judge E. Thomas Boyle in early February.

I’m sure others who follow the VoIP space much more closely than we do (like Om) will have more to say.

We also learned last week that, if certain conditions are met Google Talk users will be able to chat with AOL Instant Messenger users as part of the new AOL/Google deal.

Postscript: One “fast fact” about Google Talk we blogged about after the release of the service was that some of Google Talk’s voice technology is licensed from a Stockholm-based company.

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