BT will press on with US hyperlink patent lawsuit

With a court date set for next week in New York, British Telecommunications will press ahead with its patent-infringement lawsuit against Prodigy Communications, even if the lawsuit brings BT bad publicity, BT chairman Christopher Bland says.

          With a court date set for next week in New York, British Telecommunications (BT) will press ahead with its patent-infringement lawsuit against Prodigy Communications, even if the lawsuit brings BT bad publicity, BT chairman Christopher Bland says.

          In the lawsuit, BT alleges that it owns the patent to hyperlink technology and that the US-based internet service provider (ISP) is using the technology without authorisation.

          BT contends that in 2000 it discovered that it holds US patent 4,873,662 for the invention of hyperlink technology used to link web pages and on December 13, 2000, the London-based telecommunication company filed suit in federal court in White Plains, New York.

          Late last year, a pretrial discovery court date for case number 00cv9451 was set for February 11 and 12 with Judge Mark Fox presiding.

          The very idea of suing is an American one, so it shouldn't damage the company from a marketing point of view, Bland says.

          "If the court decides in our favour, that would be nice. If the court doesn't decide in our favour, that would not be nice. But the idea of dropping the suit to increase the 'feel good' factor with ISPs (in the US) would be a bizarre notion for us here in the UK," Bland says.

          Early in 2000, after discovering in a routine check that it owned the patent for the hyperlink, BT wrote to 17 US ISPs, including Prodigy, asking them to pay for the privilege of using the technology through licensing agreements. The suit filed against Prodigy, which claims to be the largest consumer DSL (digital subscriber line) ISP in the US as well as the first commercial ISP in the US, is the first suit BT has filed to protect its hyperlink patent.

          The Hidden Page patent can be accessed here.

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