Google Accused of Stealing 'Project Loon' Balloon Idea

...

Three years ago, Google announced plans to provide Internet access to underserved areas of the world via high-flying balloons.

Now, Space Data Corporation claims Project Loon is based, at least in part, on its own technology.

The company offers two products—SkySat and SkySite—each of which rely on a balloon-based telecommunication system to beam wireless services across the nation. A collection of up to 70 balloons can provide wireless coverage for voice and data services in the continental US.

Similarly, Loon launched in June 2013 with the intention of reaching those far corners of the globe—jungles, archipelagos, mountains—where it is difficult and costly to build Internet infrastructure.

But was the program a stroke of genius by Google or a borrowed idea? In a complaint filed Monday in Northern California District Court, Space Data claimed Google infringes on two patents: one for an "airborne constellation of communications platforms and method" (filed in 1999), another covering "unmanned lighter-than-air safe termination and recovery methods" (filed in 2001).

"Project Loon improperly and unlawfully utilizes Space Data's confidential information and trade secrets which Space Data disclosed to Google" nearly 10 years ago, the filing said.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Space Data in early 2008; at the time, the company was launching 10 balloons a day in the US to provide telecom services to truckers and oil companies. The program caught the eye of Google—which was already moving into wireless services and considered contracting with Space Data, or even buying the firm, the Journal said. Neither opportunity came to pass. But a few years later, Project Loon was born.

Google did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

As The Verge points out, this is not the first time X—Google's moonshot division—has been accused of trade secret theft. In 2014, architect Eli Attia sued over a venture he claimed was based on his Engineered Architecture system.

Categories
GAMES
0 Comment

Leave a Reply

Captcha image


RELATED BY

  • 5300c769af79e

    Weekly Recap: The Essential Note 8 XL 2 V30 is Coming

    Just when I thought we’d never get out of the early summer slow period of Android news, a wave crashes into the site and we almost can’t keep up.Oh, and the Pixel 2 emerged!
  • 5300c769af79e

    Sweden’s Musuem of Failure celebrates tech’s biggest flops

    That can be especially true in tech, where a failure can mean a product was ahead-of-its-time, or a bad implementation of a good idea.“I’m not sure failure should be celebrated, but it should be given more attention,” curator Samuel West, a licensed clinical psychologist, told Digital Trends.
  • 5300c769af79e

    Google's Cloud Lets You Bring Your Own Encryption Keys

    Now Google's cloud platform is offers the option.After more than a year of beta testing, Google Cloud Platform now officially supports customer-supplied encryption keys (CSEK) for Compute Engine, the company's infrastructure-as-a-service offering.
  • 5300c769af79e

    FCC Moves to Open 5G Floodgates

    The FCC will consider making new bands of licensed and unlicensed radio spectrum available for 5G data networks, Chairman Tom Wheeler announced today.His proposal would allow 5G communications to operate in a 14GHz unlicensed band, in addition to opening up some licensed high-frequency spectrum in blocks of 200MHz.