Skyhook accuses Google of interfering in contracts

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Skyhook is suing Google, claiming it's infringed patents and interfered with contracts it signed with Motorola and another company believed to be Samsung.

The suits were both filed in Massachussetts, the first in federal court and the second in Suffolk County, where Skyhook is based.The patent dispute relates to four Skyhook location technologies, which Skyhook says Google has been infringing with its Google Location Service.

Skyhook's XPS technology maps the location of 250 million Wifi access points. Skyhook claims that Google licensed the technology in 2005 - and then launched its own service two years later.

Rather more interestingly, Skyhook also claims that Google put the kibosh on contracts it had signed with Motorola. In 2009, it says, it signed a deal with Motorola to launch a range of Android phones using the Skyhook location service.

But, it says, Google VP Andy Rubin called Motorola co-chief executive Sanjay Jha and demanded that the service be removed. The suit claims Google justified this by saying that the Skyhook technology would make the phones incompatible with Android.

It says a similar sequence of events took place with another unnamed company. The dates mentioned indicate that this was Samsung, which announced a deal with Skyhook in July.

The suit contains some harsh words about the so-called openness of Android. It says that compliance is an 'entirely subjective' process, and "effectively gives Google the ability to arbitrarily deem any software, feature or function 'non-compatible'".

"Google wielded its control over the Android operating system, as well as other Google mobile applications such as Google Maps,
to force device manufacturers to use its technology rather than that of Skyhook, to terminate contractual obligations with Skyhook, and to otherwise force device manufacturers to sacrifice superior end user experience with Skyhook by threatening directly or indirectly to deny timely and equal access to evolving versions of the Android operating system and other Google mobile applications," it reads.

Skyhook says it's suffered damages amunting to tens of millions of dollars.

The full complaint is here.