Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Google May Contributorily Infringe WiFi-Based Positioning Patent Despite Substantial Noninfringing Uses of Android OS

The court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment that it did not contributorily infringe plaintiff's WiFi-based positioning patent and rejected its argument that the accused software had substantial noninfringing uses. "The parties’ dispute reduces to whether the 'component' is the entire Android open source and [Network Location Provider (NLP)] code (i.e., the Android operating system) or the 'location injection functionality or the location injection functionality in conjunction with NLP.' . . . Software may be a 'component' under section 271(c). Software programs may be made up of smaller software units though, each of which may also be a 'component' under the statute. . . . Here, the component of the patented system that [defendant] provides is the computer code that allows a device to collect a WiFi-based position estimate (and an uncertainty estimate) and pass that information to a satellite position module, i.e., the location injection functionality in conjunction with NLP. This functionality is 'separate and distinct' from other features in the Android operating system and must be 'treat[ed] . . . separately in analyzing contributory infringement.' Inclusion of [defendant's] code within a larger program, the Android operating system, does not change the component’s ability to infringe. Moreover, based on the expert reports that [plaintiff] has submitted and the expert testimony that it intends to offer, a reasonable juror could conclude that this component is suitable only for an infringing use."

Skyhook Wireless, Inc. v. Google, Inc., 1-10-cv-11571 (MAD February 18, 2015, Order) (Zobel, J.)

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