Jury Orders Google to Pay $338.7 Million for Patent Infringement

Google headquarters

A Texas federal court jury has found that Google violated a developer’s patent rights and ordered the company to pay $338.7 million in damages.

As Reuters reported, the jury found that Google’s Chromecast and other devices infringed patents owned by Touchstream technologies related to streaming videos from one screen to another.

The origins of the case are more than ten years old. In 2010, Touchstream founder David Strober invented a technology to move videos from one screen to another.

At the time, according to the complaint, Strober was working at Westchester Community College as a Program Manager and e-learning instructional designer. In this role, he saw the need to be able to take videos that could be viewed on a smaller device, like a smartphone, and “move” them to a larger screen, like a computer monitor or television.

Strober filed his first patent application for the technology by April 2011.

As Ars Technica explains,

All three of the Touchstream patents in question are titled "Play control of content on a display device" and detail "a system for presenting and controlling content on a display device" that uses "a network, a server system coupled to the network and comprising one or more servers, a display device coupled to the network and having a display, and a personal computing device operable to transmit a first message according to a specified format over the network to the server system."

According to the complaint, Google met with Touchstream via Skype about its technology in 2011 but told the company two months later that it wasn’t interested in licensing it or partnering.

According to Touchstream’s patent lawyer,

Touchstream filed for patent protection and spent a year developing its technology before meeting with Google under the guise of an NDA. The trial record shows that despite the protections from the NDA and the patent filings, within weeks of their meeting Google began secretly building [its] infringing casting technology.

In 2013, Google introduced its own multi-device streaming Chromecast device at a price of $35 per unit. By 2017, the company had sold 55 million units.

Google also filed patents for its own technology, citing the Touchstream patents.

Touchstream alleged that Google’s Chromecast device infringed three of its patents, and claimed that its patents were also infringed by Google’s Home and Nest smart speakers.

Google contended that the patents were invalid as obvious. It’s challenging the validity of the patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), with a decision expected by October.

According to Ars Technica,

Google also reportedly argued that Chromecast differs from the technologies in Touchstream's patents because Chromecast uses a server system and display device, while Touchstream's patents detail separate entities for the server system and display.

Touchstream has also sued cable companies like Comcast for patent infringement related to their apps and/or set-top box technologies. Those cases are still pending.

Google has said that it would appeal the verdict.

Categories: Patents