BT infringed on ASSIA DSL patent rules UK High Court

DSL technology provider ASSIA Inc. says it has convinced the High Court of Justice in London that British Telecom (BT) has infringed on one of its DSL management patents.

Dec 3rd, 2013

DSL technology provider ASSIA Inc. says it has convinced the High Court of Justice in London that British Telecom (BT) has infringed on one of its DSL management patents.

The court first ruled today that two ASSIA patents for DSL management technologies are valid, then agreed with ASSIA that BT is using ASSIA's patented DSL management technology in its Next Generation Access (NGA) network. BT has not yet indicated whether it plans to appeal the ruling.

The ruling addresses BT’s fiber to the cabinet (FTTC) architecture, in which it runs fiber to a distribution point, then connects customers using the carrier’s existing last-mile copper infrastructure to provide services via VDSL. ASSIA originally asserted that BT’s NDA, its 20th Century Network, and 21st Century Network architectures use technology that infringed on three of its patents, according to a press release from Wragge & Co., a law firm that represented ASSIA in the proceedings. At trial, ASSIA relied on a pair of patents, EP (UK) 1,869,790 and EP (UK) 2,259,495, that cover technology ASSIA has incorporated into its DSL Expresse software offering. Among other features, DSL Expresse enables dynamic monitoring and automatic optimization of DSL networks (see, for example, “ASSIA strengthens VDSL vectoring play with DSL Expresse 3.3”).

The court ruled that BT is infringing on patent 1,869,790, says Wragge. "That patent describes a method of using a state transition matrix to decide how to choose the most desirable line profile in which to operate a DSL connection," wrote ASSIA’s Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs & General Counsel Noah Mesel in an email to Lightwave.

"As a software developer, ASSIA's principal business is to deliver our award-winning products and services to customers," ASSIA CTO Marc Goldburg said. "We attempted for years to work with BT in this spirit. When it became clear that BT was using ASSIA's technology without a license and was not willing to license ASSIA's technology or products, it became necessary to bring this patent infringement claim."

"This is an extremely important case to our client,” added David Barron, head of patents at Wragge & Co. who headed ASSIA’s legal team in the case. “BT owns the vast majority of the infrastructure for delivery of broadband in the UK. By refusing to take a license or admit infringement, BT was effectively blocking access to the UK market to our client, leaving ASSIA with no option but to litigate."

Under UK High Court rules, the court will set a schedule for the damages phase of the case. Wragge expects this to occur in January 2014, unless BT appeals, which would seem likely.

Meanwhile, ASSIA and Wragge may use this ruling as a springboard to other filings. “The result here validates ASSIA's intellectual property with respect to BT, and the findings of validity are highly relevant to our discussions with other operators who we believe also implement broadband management systems that read to ASSIA's extensive patent portfolio,” Mesel was quoted as saying in the Wragge press release.

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