Google's parent company has lost out on the rights to a patent crucial to its Project Loon. The objective of Project Loon is to provide internet access to the remotest areas of the planet via a network of balloons travelling at the edge of space. The United States Patent And Trademark Office has cancelled a patent that allows Google to navigate its balloons by changing their altitude, according to a report in Android Headlines.
The patent in question allows balloons to navigate by changing their altitude according to the prevailing winds. The balloons are not equipped with any propulsion system, and would otherwise drift wherever the winds take them. Space Data has proved to the regulatory agency that it came up with the technology prior to the patent being awarded to Alphabet. The cancellation of the Alphabet patent potentially allows Space Data to press charges against Alphabet.
Space Data claimed that they had approached Google earlier in 2007 about a possible investment in the company for balloon-based internet delivery system. A team from Alphabet, including Sergey Brin visited their facility in 2008. However, Google cut of ties with the company shortly afterwards and filed its own patents relating to Project Loon. Even after Google's insistence on vigorously defending itself in the case, Space Data has already gained victory over a motion requiring Alphabet to share technical data pertaining to Project Loon so it can analyze it and check which of their patents might have been infringed upon. The trial for the case isn't set to take place until 2019.
This entire fiasco is unfolding at the very moment when Alphabet Inc self-driving car company Waymo is locked in a similar court tussle with Uber, over patent infringement and stealing of intellectual property.