Bloomberg News

British Telecommunications Sued by Comcast Over Network Patents

September 21, 2011

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A unit of BT Group Plc, the U.K.’s biggest fixed-line phone company, was sued by Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable-television provider, which seeks a ruling that it doesn’t infringe eight BT patents.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, asked for a jury trial and an award of legal fees from London-based BT Telecommunications Plc in a complaint filed Sept. 19 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“There is substantial controversy of sufficient immediacy and reality” between the companies “to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment,” Comcast said in court papers. The company also wants the BT patents ruled invalid.

Comcast, with revenue of $37.9 billion last year, operates cable-TV systems and provides high-speed Internet and phone services to homes and businesses. BT Group, with revenue of about $31 billion last fiscal year, offers fixed and mobile communications services in more than 170 countries.

“BT’s constant investment in innovation has seen it develop a large portfolio of patents which are corporate assets, so it is only right that we are seeking to protect that investment,” Kris Kozamchak, a BT spokeswoman, said in an e- mail.

The patents cover network-traffic management, pricing methods, fault monitoring and other functions, according to court papers.

Another Lawsuit

The lawsuit was filed in response to a motion by BT to amend another patent lawsuit in the same court filed last year against Cox Communications Inc. and Cable One Inc. asking for unspecified treble damages. The amendment would add Comcast as a defendant, according to a Sept. 1 filing.

Comcast lawyers said in a Sept. 19 letter to U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson that adding Comcast would “expand many times over” the process of document gathering, confuse the issues and “strain the patience” of jurors.

The new case is Comcast Cable v. British Telecommunications, 11CV843, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Fred Strasser

To contact the reporters on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net; Dawn McCarty in Wilmington, Delaware, at dmccarty@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.


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