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Google Rejects Skyhook’s Allegations Over Phone-Location Service

Google Inc. rejected allegations that it undermined plans by Samsung Electronics Co. and the former Motorola Inc. to use a competing location-finding service on Android-based mobile phones.

Skyhook Wireless Inc., a closely held software company in Boston, claimed in a September lawsuit that Motorola and Samsung were willing to pay for its service until Google threatened to cut off the phonemakers’ access to third-party applications in the Android Market. Motorola and Samsung rely on Google’s Android operating system for some of their devices.

Google said it did nothing improper with regard to any contracts Skyhook had with the phonemakers, according to a May 13 filing in response to the lawsuit in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Superior Court in Boston. The service, a software system that uses Wi-Fi positions, GPS and cell-tower triangulation to pinpoint a phone’s location, is used by advertisers and businesses to target potential customers.

“To the extent Google took any action that affected Skyhook, those actions were the lawful exercise of legitimate rights of Google and therefore are not actionable,” Mountain View, California-based Google said in the filing. “If Skyhook suffered any damages, which is denied, then any such damages resulted solely from its own acts or omissions.”

Skyhook and Google in 2005 talked about licensing the Skyhook XPS service and decided not to enter into an agreement. Google said Skyhook refused to provide information needed to verify claims about how well the service worked.

Rubin, Jha Conversation

Android creator Andy Rubin contacted then-Motorola Co-Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Jha to prevent Motorola from shipping Android phones with Skyhook’s XPS software, Skyhook said in its complaint. Google called that allegation “so incomplete and misleading as to be false.” It said that Rubin did call Jha “about Skyhook’s failure and refusal at the time to comply with Android compatibility standards.”

Jha now heads Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., the mobile-phone business spun off from Motorola in January. The remaining portions of the original company, which sell emergency-communication devices such as two-way radios and scanners, was renamed Motorola Solutions Inc.

In a separate complaint in federal court in Boston, Skyhook has claimed that Google infringed four of its patents related to ways to establish the precise location of a smartphone. Google has denied infringing the patents, and said in court filings that the patents are invalid.

The state case is Skyhook Wireless Inc. v. Google Inc., 2010-3652, Massachusetts Superior Court, Suffolk County (Boston). The patent case is Skyhook Wireless v. Google Inc., 10cv11571, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Boston).

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