Google Files Patent-Infringement Lawsuit vs. British Telecom: Report

The Google suit comes more than a year after BT had filed its own patent-infringement claims against the search engine giant in 2011.

Google is suing BT, a British telecommunications company, alleging that BT illegally violated four of its patents, including for technologies such as networking and Web-enabled phone calls.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 13 in a California federal court by Google and its Motorola Mobility unit against BT Group Plc, according to an article by Reuters.

Google also filed a similar lawsuit against BT in a British court, Reuters reported.

"We have always seen litigation as a last resort, and we work hard to avoid lawsuits," a Google spokesperson told eWEEK in an email. "But BT has brought several meritless patent claims against Google and our customers—and they've also been arming patent trolls. When faced with these kinds of actions, we will defend ourselves."

One such related case apparently involves Suffolk Technologies, which earlier sued Google in federal court in Virginia over a patent that was previously held by BT, according to the Reuters article.

The latest round of court battles is not the first patent-infringement fight between the two companies.

The Google suit comes 14 months after BT filed its lawsuit against Google in December 2011. In that lawsuit, BT alleged that Google infringed on six of its patents in products such as Google Maps, Google Music, Google's location-based advertising and some of Google's Android mobile operating system products.

Like many other technology companies, Google has been involved in many patent cases in the last few years as the tech firms have battled in the courts over their innovations, intellectual property and marketing strategies.

In October 2012, Google's Motorola unit dropped a mobile patent-infringement lawsuit that it had filed against Apple before the U.S. International Trade Commission, but said it might refile the claims at a later date. Those claims involved seven patents held by Motorola that the company alleged Apple infringed on in products such as the iPad, the iPhone and various Mac computers, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

One of the patents describes technology "that allows an audible user input to be converted into a text string," which would appear to describe Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant feature introduced with the Apple iPhone 4S.

Besides Siri, the other Motorola patents that were in the case involved features such as location reminders, phone and video player functions and email notifications. Motorola had said that it filed the complaint because Apple has been uncooperative in negotiations aimed at licensing Motorola's patents to Apple to settle the matter.

Google bought the Motorola Mobility unit in May 2012 for $12.5 billion as it continues to build up its power and holdings in the battle for a bigger chunk of the mobile marketplace, which continues to grow annually.

Patent licensing has also brought Google into court in the recent past.

In a patent-licensing case involving Apple in November 2012, a federal judge in Wisconsin sided with Google and threw out an Apple lawsuit involving royalty fees Apple was to pay Google to license some of Motorola's mobile phone patents. The court was scheduled to set a rate for Apple to pay for the licensing fee. That plan went up in flames and the judge threw the lawsuit out after Apple revealed that it would not consider itself bound by a court-set rate if it exceeded $1 per Apple phone.

Apple and Google have been battling in several courts around the world since last year. The battles have intensified as Google's Android operating system has become much more popular in the global marketplace, putting it in more direct competition with Apple's iOS.