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Skyhook Wireless, Inc. v. Google Inc.

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

November 6, 2014

Skyhook Wireless, Inc .
Google Inc

Argued May 9, 2014.

Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on September 15, 2010.

The case was heard by Judith Fabricant, J., on a motion for summary judgment.

Glenn K. Vanzura, of California ( Scott McConchie with him) for the plaintiff.

Jonathan M. Albano ( Susan Baker Manning, of the District of Columbia, with him) for the defendant.

Present: Kantrowitz, Cohen, & Agnes, JJ.


[19 N.E.3d 441] Cohen, J.

After mobile electronic device manufacturers Motorola, Inc. (Motorola), and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Samsung), withdrew from business deals with software developer

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Skyhook Wireless, Inc. (Skyhook), Skyhook filed a complaint against the defendant, Google Inc. (Google), alleging intentional interference with Skyhook's contract with Motorola, intentional interference with Skyhook's advantageous business relations with both Motorola and Samsung, and violations of G. L. c. 93A.[1] A judge of the Superior Court granted Google's motion for summary judgment on all counts.[2] We affirm.

[19 N.E.3d 442] 1. Background.[3]

Consistent with summary judgment standards, the facts upon which we rely are either undisputed or taken in the light most favorable to Skyhook. See Drakopoulos v. U.S. Bank Natl. Assn., 465 Mass. 775, 777, 991 N.E.2d 1086 (2013).[4]

This case arises from the aborted plans of Motorola and Samsung, manufacturers of mobile electronic devices (including so-called " smart phones" ), to license and install Skyhook's software product, XPS, to provide location services on their " Android" mobile devices (described below). Location services identify where the mobile device is physically positioned. Alone and in conjunction with other software applications, they allow the device user to find his or her location, to identify the location of nearby facilities, and to receive marketing information about commercial establishments in the vicinity. Location systems also collect location data from the device and return that data to the software provider for inclusion in its location database. The data then can be used to improve the accuracy of location results, as

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well as for commercial purposes.

Android is a mobile device operating system developed and maintained by Google. It is an " open source" operating system, meaning that it is publicly available and can be used without charge; however, Google owns and controls the use of the Android trademark and related trademarks, as well as the use of a group of proprietary mobile services applications known as Google Mobile Services (GMS) Apps. Google requires, by contract, that devices marketed under Android trademarks and including GMS Apps meet Google's compatibility standards, which are set out in detail in the Android Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) published by Google.[5]

In addition to a number of well-known software applications (e.g., Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search, and YouTube), GMS Apps include an application known as Network Location Provider (NLP), which helps to supply Google's location services to mobile devices. In part, NLP works in conjunction with two application programming interfaces (APIs) that are part of the Android operating system:[6] the GPS Provider API, which determines a device's [19 N.E.3d 443] location using the United States government's Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites; and the Network Provider API, which determines location based both on triangulation from nearby cellular communications towers (cell towers) and on the device's detection of local wireless network access points (" Wi-Fi" networks).[7],[8] Google's Software Development

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Kit (SDK), which assists third-party developers in creating new applications for use on any Android-compatible device, specifically informs developers which kinds of data are used by the GPS Provider API (satellite) and Network Provider API (cell tower and Wi-Fi) to fix location. The SDK is incorporated in the CDD by reference, and plays a role in determining whether Google's compatibility standards are met.

Like Google's NLP, Skyhook's XPS also determines the location of a mobile device by collecting information from GPS satellites, cell towers, and Wi-Fi networks. However, XPS operates by integrating the location data received from these three different sources. Through this approach, XPS achieves greater speed in reporting a location result. Another difference between the Google and Skyhook systems is that, unlike Skyhook's XPS, Google's NLP includes " reverse ...

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