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BT sues Valve for "willful" patent infringement

Telecommunications company cites four patents in suit

British Telecom, the UK telecommunications giant, has taken the odd step of suing Valve for patent infringement.

Rock Paper Shotgun found the documents which were filed in July and concern four separate patents, the Gittins Patent (US Patent No 6,578,079), the Newton Patent (US Patent No 6,334,142) the Beddus Patent (US Patent No 6,694,375) and the Buckley Patent (US Patent No 7,167,142). If you know what any of those are without looking them up, you should win a prize.

The four patents relate to chat, subscriptions, broadcasting and call control protocols.

"On multiple occasions, BT has notified Valve of its infringement of the Patents In-Suit,which incorporate patented technologies that include, inter alia, digital rights management, broadcasting, voice and chat, and messaging, and requested that Valve enter into discussions with BT to address it, e.g., through a licensing arrangement," BT alleges in its suit.

"Valve has derived and will continue to derive substantial value from these products and services which incorporate the patented technologies. Nonetheless, Valve has failed to respond to BT's correspondence, at all, and chosen instead to continue to infringe the Patents-in-Suit willfully and wantonly."

The full filing can be found here. We'll update this story if and when BT or Valve comment on it, or the case moves forward.

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Latest comments (16)

Alex Bunch Proof Reader, ZiCorp StudiosA year ago
Hmm remember BT trying to sue because they thought they owned the rights to hypertext links?
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer A year ago
Isn't Newton the patent on voicemail?
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic A year ago
What is claimed is:

1. A node for providing an information service in an intelligent communications network, the node comprising: data storage means for storing customer identities, respective customer-associated lists of identities of information items (hereinafter referred to as items) for which the respective associated customer has access rights, and identities of item-associated information sources which store the respective items; means for accessing the data storage means;
Etc...

General enough that it could apply to any digital retailer with their own DRM and database of users and licenses. Maybe BT think Valve are small-time, since it could equally apply to Amazon and their Kindle, Adobe and their PDF DRM, Sony, Microsoft... Yet Valve are the ones being sued.

Bunch of chancers.
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Show all comments (16)
Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing A year ago
Why sue Steam? Why not sue every app store? Why not sue anybody offering software as a service? Why not sue any other telecommunications provider in the world? Why not sue this very website for,
method for delivering structured messages comprised of information and data parts to an intended audience in a reliable and predictable manner.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago
@klaus Valve maintains virtually no international presence, and lack the army of lawyers everyone else worth suing does. Defeating them establishes precident to sue the others.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing A year ago
Lawyers can be hired and Valve neither lacks the experience, nor the pocket money for legal disputes.

This is really similar to the case concerning the patent on hyperlink. BT seems to have taken a lot of textbook information on how networks are supposed to function and filed them as patents in the 90ies. I am sure that if you dig hard enough, you can find the same patents granted to IBM, Cisco or Intel 20 years earlier.

As for Valve's lack of international presence, I believe that Australian court put that one to bed. Not that it matters whether you have a presence, what counts is doing business. Nobody really expects you to have a presence in country X to do business in country X anymore. You can have VAT numbers of plenty countries without ever having an address there. You want to know who is doing business where? Follow the VAT trail.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic A year ago
and lack the army of lawyers everyone else worth suing does.
Just because they don't make a song-and-dance about their legal team, doesn't mean they don't have lawyers, as the Blizzard/Valve/DOTA lawsuit showed. If BT thinks the multi-billion-dollar Valve don't have a decent company on retainer, then they're even more clueless than we all thought.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago
@Klaus/Morville I said they were the easiest target. Not that it would be a cakewalk. Compared to suing Apple/Microsoft/Google/Amazon/etc they are easy pickings.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing A year ago
Valve has no obligation to disclose any information to the public. They can make far better backroom strategic alliances against BT than any of the public giants ever could. Also Valve sits in Seattle of all places. All the giants whose software as a business model is under attack by BT are a mere lunch break away.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, AzoomeeA year ago
I'd be more interested in knowing who (if anyone) is currently licensing these patents from BT.
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Keldon Alleyne Developer, leader, writer, Avasopht LtdA year ago
Good point Adam.

This to me is incredibly dumb.

The fact that some grown adult earning 100k+/yr work up early every morning for a week - probably skipping breakfast in the process - took the underground at rush hour reading hir daily feed of news in sardine-can conditions to sit at a desk putting together such a ridiculous case (all while managing to keep a straight face and not laughing their ass off) AND get paid and encouraged to do this tells me there is something awfully wrong about our society.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, AzoomeeA year ago
Further to my point though, if there are other tech companies licensing these patents in the US, they might have a stronger case than we realise. BT is also one of the biggest telecoms companies in the world, so there is a danger. Valve might not be an easy target, but one they have yet to catch with their portfolio.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome EnterprisesA year ago
That's not right, BT invented chat, subscriptions, broadcasting and call control? And other companies are profiting off of these inventions without paying them? That's just wrong.

Oh and they invented hyperlinks too? That one really makes me feel bad because I've been using hyperlinks for around 20 years now and I didn't know I needed to compensate someone at BT.

If Morville's post is true they've also patented a basic customer database. I've been profiting from those for years...

Who at BT do I send the money to? And for how much?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago
@Keldon the objective to to extract a settlement, preferably with ongoing pay,nets, not to win.
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Geraint Bungay Executive Producer | Product Manager | Business Strategy A year ago
Interesting! (former Head of Games for BT).
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Sean Kauppinen Founder & CEO, IDEAA year ago
BT is clearly failing if they have to resort to patent trolling on some ridiculous patents that should have never been issued. I'm boycotting them!
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