UK Court of Appeal Rules BT FTTC Broadband Infringes ASSIA Patents - ISPreview UK
The Court of Appeal has this morning ruled that two patents owned by California-based ISP ASSIA, which relates to the field of Dynamic Spectrum Management, have been infringed upon by BT’s Next Generation Access (NGA) Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / BTInfinity) superfast broadband technology. understands that BT has been defending the claims brought by ASSIA since November 2011, which initially targeted three patents against BT. But during the proceedings ASSIA had to narrow their allegations and withdraw one of the patents entirely.

The two patents in the case – EP (UK) 1,869, 790 (‘790′) and EP (UK) 2,259,495 (‘495′) – describe inventions fundamental to DSL management technologies that are alleged to “underpin BT’s most advanced broadband system, Infinity, which provides services to more than 2.7 million customers in the UK“. It might be more accurate to say they were a part of Openreach’s underlying FTTC service rather than just BT’s consumer specific variant of FTTC, which is called BTInfinity.

Never the less ASSIA continued to target the two remaining patents and hired the Intellectual Property team from law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co to fight their corner.
Noah Mesel, ASSIA’s General Counsel, told

Today’s ruling affirms ASSIA’s role as an innovator in the field of broadband performance optimisation. Major operators around the world license our products because they recognise the value ASSIA’s software adds to their businesses. BT should do likewise. Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co has given us tireless support and service, outwitting the BT team at all stages.”
Alexandra Brodie, Wragge Partner, added:

This is an excellent result for ASSIA, whose legitimate expectation that its valuable intellectual property should be protected has been vindicated. Thanks to excellent work by our whole team, dealing with incredibly complex subject matter, the court has agreed.”
According to ASSIA, this judgment by the Court of Appeal that the NGA system infringes two patents is “likely to be significant in terms of its practical and financial impact“. But a spokesperson for BTOpenreach disagreed and told that they were “disappointed with today’s ruling“. BT also claims to have already made “minor changes to our programming which means these two decisions will have no material effect on the operation of our networks” (cost for past infringement may be another matter).

BT said that the High Court, in January 2014, found BT was infringing on only a minor part of one patent, and today the Court of Appeal, whilst “invalidating the majority of the claims of ASSIA’s other patent“, has ruled that BT’s network infringes what remains of the other patent. After a little digging we found a full copy of the judgement (here), although at 30 pages long it’s not a read for those without a technical eye and some degree of patience.