Skyhook sues Google over Motorola mapping deal

Google has been accused of forcing Motorola to drop Skyhook's mapping technology for its own, as well as violating patents held by Skyhook.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read

Google's legal department has another pressing case on its hands, this time courtesy of location-services provider Skyhook Wireless.

Google was sued in both federal and state court in Massachusetts Wednesday by Skyhook over patent infringement claims as well as what GigaOm called "business interference," according to its report. Skyhook is claiming that Google used its control over Android and Google Maps to bar Skyhook's mapping technology from Motorola's Android handsets in favor of the search company's own technology, and that Google's mapping technology violates four Skyhook patents.

Specifically, the complaint regarding business interference filed in Massachusetts state court (embedded below) states that Google's Andy Rubin, head of the Android project, demanded that Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha drop Skyhook's technology from Motorola handsets or Google would remove Android certification from those handsets.

"As none of these devices was preloaded with (Skyhook's) software, as would have occurred but for Google's interference, Skyhook lost millions of dollars in royalties provided under the Motorola Contract," Skyhook wrote in the complaint. "Google's interference also harmed Skyhook by preventing enhancements to Skyhook's database that would have occurred but for the deprivation of data from these phones."

A separate complaint regarding the patent claims was filed in federal court. Google declined to comment, saying that it had yet to be served with the complaints and therefore had not had a chance to review them.

Skyhook was one of the first companies to legitimize "war-driving," or the practice of mapping open wireless access points, by using that data to help mobile devices pinpoint their location as a backup to GPS technology. Its software and data were a major part of the first iPhone, which didn't come with a GPS chip.

Google has also long been interested in mapping technology, but according to Skyhook's complaint initially tried to license Skyhook's technology before deciding to strike out on its own. As most will recall,Google is currently in very hot water over the software it used to run its mapping service, which collected actual Internet traffic sent over unsecured Wi-Fi networks as opposed to merely the location data that other Wi-Fi mapping services like Skyhook collect.

Skyhook v Google Complaint