Skyhook says Google bad-mouthed its Wi-Fi location tech to Apple

By , Jul 3, 2013

iPad GPS

It’s nearly unthinkable: a technology firm bad-talking a rival to a prospective customer. That’s the heart of the latest claim by a location services company suing Internet giant Google for alleged patent infringement.

Skyhook Wireless is asking a court to compel Google to turn over documents showing co-founder Sergey Brin spoke badly of SkyHook’s GPS location technology. As part of a recent court filing, Skyhook charges Brin told Apple co-founder Steve Jobs that the iPhone maker could do better if it went with Google…

“Having apparently disparaged Skyhook’s technology to Apple, Google proceeded to then launch the same Wi-Fi based location technology by infringing Skyhook’s patent,” the court filing reads, via FOSS Patents.

Skyhook’s technology, which uses Wi-Fi hotspot beacons to triangulate locations without the need of GPS, was attractive to Apple in 2008. The first-generation iPhone, released just a year earlier, used location data supplied both by Google and Skyhook.

Apparently, Skyhook is alleging Google wanted the Apple contract all to itself.

Skyhook is seeking “certain documents” of Brin’s it believes will prove Google tried to convince Jobs to drop their company. The sales pitch by Google reportedly was made by Brin following a Macworld 2008 keynote speech by the then Apple CEO.

At the time, Jobs described Skyhook’s technology as “really cool.”

Skyhook teaser 001

Unsaid is that Skyhook makes no direct connection between Brin’s sales pitch to Jobs and Apple dumping Skyhook for Google. Indeed, just two years later, in 2010, the iPhone maker dumped both companies, using its own location data as part of iOS 3.2 and the new-fangled iPad.

Apple further estranged its relationship with Google by jettisoning Google Maps for Apple Maps.

While everyone knows Google can be a tough competitor, it was the Skyhook lawsuit that brought to light Google’s iron-fisted control over Android, points out FOSS Patent’s Florian Mueller.

However, it’s not clear whether this new wrinkle will dent Google’s reputation any further or bring it to the negotiating table before the expected start of a 2014 trial on Skyhook’s patent-infringement charges.

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  • Kevin Guzman

    Ok, so Google badmouthed your company, who cares? I think anyone would badmouth any competitor just to get a deal. Seriously, who cares? Besides, Google is much better than Skyhook, so naturally, Apple went with Google for their mapping services. Can anyone be sued for trying to to get a deal with Apple?

    • Maxim∑

      skyhook is the technology that apple uses for Assisted GPS, thats why if you turn off GPS you can sometimes navigate purely on wifi with iOS. Android cannot do that at least with stock google maps

      • MOM

        hi son

      • Falk M.

        Assisted GPS is more than that. Actually it means that it uses cellular triangulation for the rough area where you are to speed up the calculation of the GPS signals to a minimum so you have an exact location in less time.

        If you used only GPS to calculate your position it could easily take more than one and a half minutes to get your position.
        AGPS helps narrow down your rough position on this planet down to area code or better and then using GPS only for the finetuning.

        GPS is horrible for anything but continuous tracking or precise tracking.
        Cellular and WiFi triangulation is the way to go for quick narrowing down.

      • JT

        Android can do it. But its really bad

  • pevensen

    Because when a competitor says, “don’t go with them because we’re better,” I always believe it.

  • Crowned_59

    wah!

  • Falk M.

    Wow, no shit? Companies try to get contracts by making themselves look better than competitors?

    Wow, guess you never stop learning… /s