You can't run a tech company these days without infringing on someone's patents, and if you feel that you're infringee material, the Eastern District of Texas is the place to set up shop. SimpleAir, a Texas-based "inventor-owned technology licensing company," took Google to court over push messaging systems used in Android. Last month a jury found that Google infringed on all five of the asserted claims, leaving the company liable to pay up to $125 million for damages. Now we have a final number: $85 million.


The math here is simple. First, the jury found that Google's Cloud to Device Messaging (CD2M) and Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) infringed on all five claims made in patent number 7,035,914. Google felt it owed $6 million. SimpleAir demanded $127 - 146 million. Not wanting to go through too much trouble, they came together and settled on the average.

Okay, maybe my math's a little off.

Google's far from the only company SimpleAir has targeted. Previous lawsuits took aim at Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and others. Regardless, Google's not out of the woods just yet. SimpleAir owns the patent until 2017, and damages for Google's ongoing and future infringements will be addressed in later proceedings. After all, SimpleAir doesn't want Google (or any other developers, for that matter) not to use its technology. The company just wants their money, and Google has tons of it.

Federal Jury Orders Google to Pay SimpleAir $85 Million for Infringement

MARSHALL, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--SimpleAir announced today that a federal jury returned a verdict that Google owes $85 million in damages for infringing SimpleAir’s U.S. Patent No. 7,035,914. A separate jury had unanimously determined in January 2014 that Google infringed all five asserted claims of the ‘914 patent and that each claim was valid. This trial was limited to the issue of damages and concluded on March 19, 2014.

Both trials were presided over by the Honorable Rodney Gilstrap, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas.

The infringing services are the Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) and Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) services. The services are used by Google to process and send push notifications for Android applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail.

In the damages trial, Google argued that it should only have to pay $6 million and that this amount should cover not just past infringement but all future infringement of the ‘914 patent, which does not expire until 2017. SimpleAir presented evidence that damages should be assessed between $127 million to $146 million for past infringement alone. The jury deliberated for less than an hour and returned a verdict that Google owes $85 million in damages just for past infringement. Damages for Google’s ongoing and future infringement will be addressed in future proceedings.

“The jury understood that Google profits tremendously from its infringing use of our invention and we believe that is reflected in its verdict,” said John Payne, who is the lead inventor and majority owner of SimpleAir. “We appreciate the jury’s service and their fairness in considering and validating a large damages claim made by such a small company against a company that is so widely known.”

The jury heard evidence that Google infringes the SimpleAir patent several billion times per day in sending push notifications for more than 60,000 applications on hundreds of millions of Android devices.

“We expect a long road before we actually recover a single dollar from Google, but this is an important milestone along that road,” Payne continued.

SimpleAir is an inventor-owned technology licensing company. SimpleAir has licensed its inventions to many leading technology companies. The company holds ten issued U.S. Patents and several pending patent applications in the areas of wireless content delivery, mobile applications, and push notifications. SimpleAir’s ‘914 patent, the patent that was asserted against Google, was subject to a Reexamination proceeding that concluded in February 2013 with all original claims confirmed.

SimpleAir is represented by Greg Dovel, Jeff Eichmann, and Simon Franzini of Dovel & Luner LLP and by Calvin Capshaw, Elizabeth DeRieux, and Jeff Rambin of Capshaw DeRieux LLP.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Konstantin Vishnevsky

    Patent trolls like this are the Westboro Baptist Church of the tech world.

    • Justin W

      I think Infringement needs to be redefined, at least, in legalese terms. Why is it these "companies" can buy patents and not use them, and request damages when they don't make money on the patents anyway?

  • darkdude1

    About time the patent system is scrapped, or at least rules imposed to prevent trolling. All this does is stifle technology...

  • abqnm

    While it still sucks that these trolls are still allowed to abuse the existing laws, the amount is probably less than Google's legal fees and in the grand scheme is largely irrelevant. And even still, they will likely appeal if not on principal alone. And unless the tides shift with our patent laws, they will probably lose that. But they are making the stand. At least Google is fighting because not all of their targets can afford to. Something needs to change here.

    • naysayer

      The problem is that these numbers add up, that the increased cost of business is a much bigger problem for startups and that these patent trolls are getting money for basically doing nothing. In other words: It's highly lucrative to be a patent troll, although they don't improve our economy in any way.

      • abqnm

        Usually the bigger the players the bigger the fuss. So let's hope Google can make enough of a stink that we can stop the trolls. Then again a lot of it comes back to lobbying $$$, but in both cases Google has a lot more power to help than many targets of these trolls.

        So while it sucks right now, it will be things like this that hopefully can get regulators and lawmakers to take note and we need them to help change this.

  • Sir_Brizz

    This patent is ridiculous. You could practically expand it to cover any kind of push notification.

  • John Smith

    The jury probably isn't even qualified technically to decide that Google infringed.

    • naysayer

      And that's deliberate. The jury system is already bone headed when it is about simple issues and downright silly if complex matters are involved.

      • abobobilly

        Reading this, and recalling "12 Angry Men" ... it starts to become clear whats really wrong with this jury system.

  • Kevin

    Imagine everyone stopping to use these patents... smartphones simply wouldn't exist. They need to start working together instead of suing for ridiculous amounts of money

    • h4rr4r

      No, blindingly obvious patents should simply not be allowed.

      • AndroidUser00110001

        I don't agree with a lot of the patent laws and these companies that just hold patents to sue others but I have to play devil's advocate now...maybe it is only obvious because someone else thought of it before anyone else did. If the patent was so obvious then why did you or myself not file for it and think of this method?

        • h4rr4r

          Because we thought it too obvious?
          If so many people infringe, it is going to be obvious. Not like they are reading patent applications to find ideas.

  • Matthew Fry

    It's funny how a bunch of Samsung's patents (in the Sam v Apple case) were deemed industry essential (I don't remember the official wording) and Apple didn't have to pay and this, what I think a lot of people would deem industry essential, is not.

  • h4rr4r

    Can we give Texas back to Mexico yet?

    • Ryan

      No, but I'll say this. Texas has a bit over a hundred districts, and where the court case was is just one of them. If they tried elsewhere, the troll would most likely have lost the case or would have not gotten the $85 Mil. that they did get.

  • Bluewall

    125$ MILLION. Think about it. 125$... MILLION. More than almost all of us can ever dream about.
    For using PUSH.
    This need to end.

  • http://poshhub.com/ Phone Source

    $85 million is a lot of money for such a small company. I hope SimpleAir don't squander the money.

  • Elliot Kotis

    Why doesnt google just buy them?

  • andrew__des_moines

    It's easy to call them trolls, but the reality is this is just a symptom of an over-lawyered legal system, and a rubber-stamping patent office. Another symptom is less innovation and more cost to end users.

  • huu
  • nobody9

    Thank goodness the royal apple is dead, and the gates -- err windows are stuck open. Die digital Napoleons. Die!