ASSIA wins another round in DSL patent fight with BT

Broadband access network management software vendor ASSIA, Inc. reports the UK Court of Appeal in London has affirmed a High Court judgment against BT in a patent fight, while adding a second victory for the company. The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that BT infringed on one ASSIA broadband management patent covering dynamic spectrum management techniques, then added that it believes BT infringed on another patent as well.

Broadband access network management software vendor ASSIA, Inc. reports the UK Court of Appeal in London has affirmed a High Court judgment against BT in a patent fight, while adding a second victory for the company. The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that BT infringed on one ASSIA broadband management patent covering dynamic spectrum management techniques, then added that it believes BT infringed on another patent as well.

The two patents, EP (UK) 1,869,790 and EP (UK) 2,259,495, describe methods of dynamic monitoring and automatic optimization of DSL networks. Last December, the High Court ruled that a DSL management platform BT developed infringed upon on patent 1,869,790 (see "BT infringed on ASSIA DSL patent rules UK High Court"). BT appealed the ruling, while tweaking its platform in a way it believes no longer infringes the patent. ASSIA, meanwhile, appealed the ruling on the 495 patent.

In the most recent ruling, the court upheld the earlier ruling that BT had infringed the 790 patent, while also ruling that it had infringed the 495 patent as well.

Despite losing the appeal, BT told staff at World Intellectual Property Review that it doesn't much care, in light of the adjustment it made to its approach. However, a hearing to review BT's adjustment in relation to the patents was scheduled to take place November 13.

The court finding could be significant, given that the DSL management technique at issue underpins BT's current "Next Generation Architecture" superfast broadband initiative. The carrier serves 3.3 million customers as of September 30 via the infrastructure.

As for what happens next, pending the outcome of the November 13 hearing, it appears ASSIA would be satisfied if BT licensed its technology, which is the foundation of its DSL Expresse product.

"Today's ruling affirms ASSIA's role as an innovator in the field of broadband performance optimization," said ASSIA General Counsel Noah Mesel. "Two dozen major operators around the world license our products because they recognize the significant value ASSIA's software uniquely adds to their businesses. As BT continues to grow the part of their business that infringes ASSIA's patents, it is time for them to join companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Sky, and Bouygues, and license our software; otherwise BT should pay for infringing our patented technology."

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