Google initially lost its fight against an alleged patent troll over push notifications, but it continued to fight until it won. This has saved it a huge $85 million, which it was ordered to pay by an East Texas court in 2014. On the other hand, several other tech giants caved and negotiated agreements with the dreaded SimpleAir, considered by many to be a patent troll.
Google saves $85 million
In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Google fought and beat SimpleAir, which frequently files lawsuits over claimed infringements of the patents it owns. Describing itself, SimpleAir says it is not a patent troll but instead is “an inventor-owned technology licensing company with interests and intellectual property in the wireless content delivery, mobile application, and push notification market spaces.”
In this case, SimpleAir accused Google’s Cloud Messenger services of infringing upon a 1996 patent for pushing content onto desktop computers. Messages sent from an app to a user’s interface, even when the app is not running, are typically related to push notifications.
The company also filed a second lawsuit against Google over similar patents in January 2014, seeking more than $100 million for alleged infringement. After a trial last year, a different jury ruled that those patents did not infringe.
Days of patent trolling are over
From 2008 to 2013, SimpleAir filed several lawsuits against big tech companies, including MySpace, Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, CBS and Apple, over the notifications, says Ars Technica. The report states that all these firms settled with the firm. A SimpleAir expert testified in the early proceedings in the Google lawsuit that to license a SimpleAir “push” patent, Microsoft probably paid $5 million.
SimpleAir sued Google in the district of East Texas federal court, a jurisdiction notoriously friendly to patent trolls. In 2014, Google was ordered to pay $85 million to SimpleAir, but the search giant approached a federal appeals court with the case. On April 1, the court ruled that the search giant did not breach the patents owned by SimpleAir and dismissed the $85 million judgment.
Such a ruling indicates that while low-level patent trolling is thriving, the era of large patent troll victories is quickly waning. It now appears that the chances of a victory by well-resourced tech companies such as Google are better than ever, provided they are willing to fight through an appeal.