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Cellphone Contractor on the Outs Can’t Sue Google

(CN) - A software developer failed to show that Google ruined his deals with Samsung and Motorola, a Massachusetts appeals court ruled.

Skyhook Wireless Inc.'s software product XPS provides location services that help smartphone users learn their locations and find nearby businesses.

Google owns the trademark for the Android smart phone operating system and has its own location system called Network Location Provider (NLP).

According to the court's opinion, which notes that the case history is generally uncontested, XPS collects location data faster than Google by integrating the data it collects from cell towers, satellites and wireless networks, in a system of "hybrid location reporting."

Google's NLP on the other hand uses "reverse geocoding" to convert location data to street addresses.

Samsung and Motorola signed contracts with Google in 2009 to use NLP for its location services. Both companies also signed deals with Skyhook, but officials from both companies wondered whether the deals would violate their Google contracts if XPS was found not to be Android-compatible.

In April 2010, Skyhook issued a press release titled "Motorola to replace Google with Skyhook," stating that Motorola was "the first Android device make to abandon Google for its location services."

Google contacted Motorola, raising the issue of Skyhook's hybrid-location reporting. At Google's request, Motorola removed XPS from its July 2010 shipment of new phones and later terminated its agreement with Skyhook.

Samsung also dropped out of its deal with Skyhook, stating that "Google Locator was good enough" and that the "financial burden from Skyhook is another reason."

Skyhook sued Google in September 2010 for interference with contract and business relations. The trial court granted dismissed the case, however, after finding that the evidence did not show an improper motive on Google's part.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court also ruled in Google's favor on Nov. 6.

"Like the motion judge," Justice Cynthia Cohen wrote for a three-member panel, "that Skyhook's claims founder because Skyhook cannot demonstrate on this record that any interference by Google was improper in either motive or means."

Google had the right under its contracts to allow their apps to function without being modified to accommodate Skyhook's XPS program, according to the ruling.

"The manufacturers were contractually obliged to leave the (Google) apps fully functional," Cohen wrote.

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