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.