This week the High Court handed down its judgment on a recent UK patent dispute brought by Adaptive Spectrum and Signal Alignment, Inc. (ASSIA) against British Telecommunications plc (BT). ASSIA claimed that BT’s broadband access networks infringed two of ASSIA’s patents. Mr. Justice Birss found that EP 1,869,790 was infringed by BT’s Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband network, and that the patent was valid, despite BT’s claims to the contrary. Another of ASSIA’s patents, EP 2,259,495, was also held to be valid, but not infringed by BT. ASSIA was represented by Wragge & Co, and barristers Iain Purvis QC and Joe Delaney in the litigation.
The importance of this case to BT is clear from Mr Justice Birss’s statement that “At one point in the argument BT’s counsel were anxious to point out that if BT is held to infringe, this may have an impact on all the home broadband connections provided by BT across the whole country.” It is unclear whether BT will seek the court’s permission to appeal in this case.
In the meantime, oppositions have been lodged at the EPO against several patents granted to ASSIA. The EPO oppositions are being handled for ASSIA by Jason Pelly and Jo Pelly, partners at Boult Wade Tennant. In all oppositions decided to date, ASSIA has successfully come away with a granted European patent held valid by the EPO. In relation to the High Court decision, Jo Pelly said “The outcome of the High Court case is an excellent result for ASSIA. It builds upon recent successes we have had with ASSIA at the EPO where the opponent has failed to have ASSIA patents revoked at opposition. We look forward to continuing to assist ASSIA in maintaining their patent portfolio.”
ASSIA is a US-based software development company providing network management solutions to broadband access providers. ASSIA’s products improve service speeds and consumer satisfaction on approximately 70 million broadband connections on five continents. “The recent decisions by the High Court and the EPO regarding the validity of ASSIA patents are heartening,” said Marc Goldburg, ASSIA’s CTO. “ASSIA has invested significantly to create its unique industry leading solutions, which are exactly the types of products that the patent system is intended to protect. Boult Wade Tennant’s effective representation of ASSIA before the EPO has been instrumental in ensuring that protection.”