Almost two years ago Google had announced its Project Loon, which envisages to provide internet connectivity using high-altitude balloons. So far Google has expanded the service in a few countries and is also making efforts to launch in India. While many describe the idea of internet beaming balloons as ‘revolutionary’, a company called Space Data Corporation has claimed the rights of the tech used in the project. Also Read - Google Play Store announces blanket ban on Sugar Daddy apps over sexual contentAlso Read - Google, Facebook make vaccination mandatory for employees returning to office
Space Data Corporation, which also provides balloon-based wireless services, contends that it holds patents (filed in 1999) covering a system for providing internet connectivity through a network of balloons, and the Project Loon infringes the same. Consequently, the company has filed a suit against Alphabet in the Northern California District Court. The complaint seeks damages for two counts of patent infringement, two counts of misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of written contract. Also Read - Fake Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) Lite APK links going viral on the internet: How to spot them
The figures below by Space Data demonstrate suggest the Project Loon may have been inspired on Space Data’s concept. It is important to note that Google also owns a bunch of patents of its own surrounding the technology, and nowhere refers to Space Data s tech.
Interestingly, Google’s senior executives had visited Space Data’s office years before launching the Project Loon. According to the lawsuit, Project Loon improperly and unlawfully utilizes Space Data s confidential information and trade secrets which Space Data disclosed to Defendant Google pursuant to a 2007 Mutual Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
Space Data s suit further claims, “On or about December 4, 2007, Space Data and Google executed the NDA for the sole and exclusive purpose of engaging in discussions and negotiations concerning a proposed acquisition of shares or assets of Space Data .
On or about February 15, 2008, 11-13 members of Google flew via their corporate jet to Mesa Gateway Airport to visit Space Data s facilities for an entire day. Included among the Google team were the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who participated in the Space Data presentations and demonstrations of Space Data s proprietary technology. Indeed, Mr. Page and Mr. Brin participated in demonstrations in which they launched Space Data s balloons , it adds.
The image below was attached in the suit as a proof of Sergey Brin s visit to Space Data Facility.