BT held liable for infringing on ASSIA's DSL patents

London's High Court of Justice has ruled that BT (NYSE: BT) infringed on one of two DSL management technology patents held by ASSIA, a provider of software solutions that enable telcos to increase the rate and reach of broadband services they deliver over their existing copper networks.

BT, according to the court's ruling, has been using ASSIA's DSL management technology in its Next Generation Access (NGA) network, which provides VDSL-based service speeds of up to 40 Mbps in a fiber to the cabinet (FTTC) configuration.

Broadband continues to be a big factor in BT's revenue portfolio. During the telco's second quarter, it added a total of 156,000 retail broadband customers, a figure that included both DSL and fiber-based broadband. It ended the quarter with a total of 7 million broadband customers.

According to ASSIA, BT infringed on two patents--EP (UK) 1,869,790 and EP (UK) 2,259,495--which describe inventions that are focused on dynamic monitoring and automatic optimization of DSL networks. Both of these technologies are incorporated into the vendor's DSL Expresse software platform that is currently used by a number of Tier 1 telcos such as China Unicom. 

"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," said Marc Goldburg, ASSIA's CTO, in a release.

Now the court will set a date for the damages phase of the case. BT has not indicated whether they will appeal the ruling.

"Although BT is disappointed with that finding and considers it has a good case on appeal, BT can make minor changes to its programming to avoid the issue entirely," said the carrier in a statement. "Accordingly, the decision will have no material effect on the operation of BT's networks."

This is the second patent suit BT has faced this year. Besides ASSIA, BT was sued by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) in February for infringing on four of the Internet search giant's patents related to QoS and VoIP calling.

Patent disputes between service providers and technology patent holders are a common occurrence in the telecom industry. Three of the largest U.S.-based telcos, AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), are being sued by Intellectual Ventures, a patent holding company, over violating various DSL patents.

For more:
- see the release

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