Skyhook Wireless Inc. v. Google Inc. Highlights Technology Lawsuits in Massachusetts

A Massachusetts tech company is among those who have been embroiled in one of a growing number of lawsuits involving technology and privacy or information technology, Bloomberg News reports.

Skyhook Wireless Inc. v. Google Inc., (2010-3652 Massachusetts Superior Court, Suffolk County (Boston)) and Skyhook Wireless v. Google Inc. (10cv11571, U.S. District Court for the District Court of Massachusetts), claims copyright infringement on four patents related to establishing smartphone locations. The company also claims Google used its leverage to cut off the phonemaker’s access to third-party applications in the Android market.

Massachusetts technology attorneys have seen an explosion in interest and concern surrounding the ability of a number of smartphones — including Apples iPhone — to pinpoint a user’s location and store or transmit such data for a number of uses. Privacy advocates are increasingly questioning such technology. Bloomberg News reports the European Union is proposing tougher restrictions on such technology. There, users must be given “clear, comprehensive” and understandable information about how and why the data is collected and how it is used.

Technology firms and business startups in Massachusetts and elsewhere can use such information to deliver targeted advertising and for a wide variety of other uses. However, a Massachusetts business law firm should be consulted, to both help keep a business from running afoul of the law and to protect a startup’s proprietary technology.

Apple and other companies have defended collection of the data by saying it is used to record wi-fi hotspots for ease of the returning user. The May 16 decision in Europe made it clear that England, Germany and France will consider such information private data.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Senator is making inquiry about the privacy policies of Microsoft, Google and Apple. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, also sent a letter to Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerrys. He contends the tracking of the whereabouts of a cell phone user violates his/her reasonable expectation of privacy.

Skyook’s technology is among the location-finding technologies available on the market. Google rejects the allegations that it undermined plans by Samsung Electronics and Motorola to using competing location-finding technology.

In other technology news, Baidu is accused in a U.S. lawsuit of assisting Chinese censorship efforts. Often referred to as the Google of China, Baidu was sued by eight Chinese residents of New York, who say the company’s censorship of political expression is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit also alleges Baidu violates New York state law and demands $16 million in damages from Baidu and the Chinese government.

Both lawsuits illustrate the need to think globally in the age of the global economy. Startups often consider U.S. law when designing or implementing products, even while targeting the burgeoning markets in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere. Those aiming for the global stage must also consider the global legal ramifications.

The Massachusetts business law attorneys at The Brown Law Firm, LLC are available for free and confidential consultations. Call (617) 489-0817.

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