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BT sues Prodigy over US hyperlink patent

UK telco wants pound of flesh

BT, which earlier in the year said it had discovered that it owns the US patent for the invention of the hyperlink technology used on the Internet, has sued US-based Prodigy Communications for copyright infringement.

The company filed the suit in federal court in White Plains, New York, on Wednesday. BT declined to give details about any damages the former state-owned telecommunications company is seeking from Prodigy.

"We are looking for appropriate reparations," said BT spokesman David Orr.

Representatives from Prodigy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Early in the year after discovering in a routine check that it owned the patent for the hyperlink, BT wrote to 17 US ISPs including Prodigy, asking them to pay for the privilege of using the technology through licensing agreements.

The suit filed against Prodigy, which claims to be largest consumer DSL (digital subscriber line) ISP in the US, is the first suit BT has filed to protect its hyperlink patent, according to Orr.

"Early this year we wrote to 17 top US ISPs asking to be reimbursed for the use of the technology. We've heard back from the majority of those companies, all saying that they need to review the matter and get back to us," said BT spokesman Simon Gordon.

According to BT's Orr, the company is wholly unconcerned about generating any negative publicity by suing for the use of such a commonly used Internet technology.

"We're looking for no more or no less than is appropriate for the rights to our intellectual property. It is a reasonable action," Orr said.


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