Skyhook sues Google over blocking business, infringing patents

Skyhook Wireless has sued Google, accusing it of blocking its wireless location technology from being installed on mobile phones and of infringing its patents.

The lawsuits were filed yesterday in the US District Court in Massachusetts, where Skyhook claims that Andy Rubin, vice-president of engineering at Google, told Motorola to ship its Android phones with Google’s Location Service instead of Skyhook’s XPS software.

Skyhook’s software was meant to replace Google’s in a deal it made with Motorola back in April of this year. The software combines Skyhook’s Wi-Fi Positioning technology with similar location services, such as GPS, IP location, WiMax, and cell tower ID.

However, Skyhook claims that Google used its position in the industry to force manufacturers to employ its products, threatening them that it may not provide updated versions of the Android operating system in a timely manner if they did not comply.

“There was a time when Google tried to compete fairly with Skyhook,” said a spokesperson for Skyhook in a statement. “But once Google realized its positioning technology was not competitive, it chose other means to undermine Skyhook and damage and attempt to destroy its position in the marketplace for location positioning technology.”

Skyhook also claims that Google interfered with another company it had made a similar deal with to provide location services. It refused to identify this company, labelling it only as “Company X”. 

A second lawsuit was also filed, accusing Google of infringing Skyhook’s location-based software patents.

While exact figures were not revealed, Skyhook is believed to be seeking millions of dollars in damages.

Google said it has not yet received the complaint and therefore cannot comment.