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Google could be on the hook for $125M for patent infringement

Sacramento residents are doubtless familiar with the seemingly constant battles in courts over technology issues. Companies headquartered in the Silicon Valley frequently have to defend themselves against claims of copyright infringement and patent violations -- or are making claims against other companies for those reasons.

Recently, one of the major technology players found itself on the wrong end of a big court decision. A company called SimpleAir contended that its patented technology was unjustly usurped by Google. The service used by the larger company notifies users of notifications from programs such as Gmail and Facebook via its Android operating system.

SimpleAir's patent was infringed on by Google, according to a verdict issued by a jury. The members of that jury couldn't come to a decision on how much to award SimpleAir for the violation, but the company is seeking $125 million from Google. As a result, there will be a second, limited jury trial to determine the amount of damages. Google attorneys requested a mistrial.

SimpleAir has agreements with several other technology companies to license its technologies, including Blackberry, Microsoft and Apple. The agreement with Apple came about after a settlement to a patent lawsuit nearly two years ago.

Companies large and small need to be vigilant about the unauthorized use of their intellectual property. As was seen in this case, merely holding a patent does not necessarily dissuade other companies from appropriating it. On occasion, it may be necessary for an attorney to step in and assist a company protect itself.

Source: PC World, "Google faces $125 million damages claim after losing Android patent lawsuit," Loek Essers, Jan. 22, 2014

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