Google Gets Sued Over Talk Service

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A firm that holds patents for technology used in Internet voice calling is suing search giant Google for $5 billion over its Google Talk instant-messaging client, according to court papers.

Rates Technology Inc. (RTI), a small, New York company that holds patents to telecommunications technologies but does not sell products, filed suit in October against Google, claiming the Mountain View, California, company is using two technologies RTI has patented but has not licensed them.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in October, but surfaced first in published reports last week.

Cutting Costs

Google uses the two technologies, which are for minimizing the cost of long-distance telephone calls, in the VoIP service of its Google Talk VoIP client, according to court papers.

"Google's wrongful acts have damaged and will continue to damage RTI irreparably, and RTI has no adequate remedy at law for those wrongs and injuries," the company says in court papers.

Google has been notified of its patent infringement and given a chance to remedy the situation by licensing technology from RTI, "but has refused to do so," the company says in its court filing.

RTI is demanding a trial by jury to settle the suit, according to court papers.

Rich Tehrani, VoIP industry watcher and president of Technology Marketing, has written about RTI in several entries on his VoIP Blog.

In an e-mail interview last week, Tehrani said that RTI founder and President Jerry Weinberger invented least-cost routing technology that allows a phone system to find the cheapest carrier prior to placing a phone call. This technology is part of what enables VoIP calls to work. Other companies, such as Cisco Systems and Lucent Technologies, have already paid RTI to use its patented technology, he said.

In an e-mailed statement from Google spokesperson Steve Langdon, the company said it believes the lawsuit is "without merit" and plans to fight it.

RTI could not be reached for comment last week.

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