Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Google a patent infringement defendant?

from Mike at TechDirt

Gary Price, over at the Search Engine Watch site, is breaking the news that Google is being sued for patent infringement concerning the Google Talk IM/VoIP client. Price points to a very thorough look at RTI, the company doing the suing, by Rich Tehrani. The company tries to position itself as not being a patent troll -- but again, they do seem to be suing companies who are innovating in areas that RTI isn't doing anything. The two (one and two) patents at issue are focused on "least cost routing," basically figuring out the cheapest way to make a phone call and selecting that route. You can make a very reasonable argument that this is a non-trivial matter -- but is it so difficult that it's somehow non-obvious to those skilled in telephony? Either way, it's still unclear how Google is infringing on either patent, as it doesn't appear that Google Talk connects to the traditional (PSTN) phone system these days. So, how are they violating patents concerning least cost routing on the telephone network when they never touch the telephone network? It's quite likely that Google Talk will eventually interconnect with the PSTN, but it seems like this patent suit might be a bit premature.


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