Google Faces VOIP Lawsuit

Feb 14 (Reuters
Legal) – Technology communications company VoIP Inc sued Google Inc. in
New York Supreme Court on Monday, accusing the Internet giant of
stealing its trade secrets related to online voice technology.

The litigation stems from a
September 2005 contract in which, according to the complaint, VoIP’s Los
Angeles-based subsidiary, VoiceOne Communications Corp, agreed to
provide Google with its patented "Click to Call" technology that allows
Internet users to place a call to advertisers or merchants simply by
clicking a link on a website. The technology was designed to increase
the value of online advertising by giving customers direct, free phone
access to advertisers via their computers. VoIP is currently in
bankruptcy proceedings.

VoiceOne
was the designated carrier of phone calls initiated on Google websites
under the agreement, according to the complaint. Google terminated the
contract with VoiceOne in 2007, claiming that the company had violated a
nondisclosure agreement by revealing that Google was its client, the
suit said.

Google entered a 2006
joint venture with eBay and Skype related to Internet call services.
VoiceOne argues that Google’s justification for terminating the 2005
agreement was "a pretext" to allow the company to exploit VoiceOne’s
confidential information, including source codes, algorithms and "know
how" for monetizing Internet phone calls, in its deal with eBay and
Skype.

Google spokesman Aaron
Zamost was not immediately available for comment. Plaintiffs’ attorneys
Christopher Seeger and Jonathan Shub did not immediately return calls
seeking comment.

The lawsuit claims
trade secret theft, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and breach of
contract and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages,
disgorgement of illegal gains, an injunction and attorney’s fees.

On
July 29, 2009, VoIP filed a similar lawsuit against Google in Los
Angeles Superior Court. That case was dismissed without prejudice in
December 2009 due to jurisdictional issues and VoIP’s pending bankruptcy
proceedings, according to plaintiffs’ lawyer Brian Kabatek. Creditors
filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against VoIP in U.S. Bankruptcy
Court for the Southern District of Florida in 2009.

Last
June, Frontier Communications sued Google over its Google Voice
product, which gives users one phone number to connect their home, work
and cell phones. Frontier, a provider of phone, Internet and satellite
TV services, alleged that Google Voice infringed on its patented
invention that linked multiple phone lines to a single number. That
litigation is underway in U.S. District Court for the District of
Delaware.

The latest case is VoIP Inc et al v. Google Inc, New York Supreme Court, No. 650380/2011.

For VoIP and the other plaintiffs: Christopher Seeger and Jonathan Shub of Seeger Weiss.

For Google: Not immediately available.

The California case is VoIP Inc et al v. Google, Los Angeles Superior Court, No. BC418842.

For
VoIP and the other plaintiffs: Byron Ball of The Ball Law Firm, Mark
Geragos of Geragos & Geragos and Brian Kabateck of Kabateck Brown
Kellner.

For Google: Los Angeles lawyer Gary Bostwick; Michael Page and Ragesh Tangri of Durie Tangri.

(Reporting by Terry Baynes of Reuters Legal; Editing by Amy Singer)

 

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