Jury orders Google to pay $340M patent-infringement damages over Chromecast

Something something don't cross the streams

Google has been ordered by a US federal court to cough up $338.7 million in damages for infringing someone else's patents with its Chromecast gear.

A jury in Waco, Texas, on Friday found against the web giant, and set the nine-figure pay out.

In that heady era of 2011 to 2012, Touchstream Technologies developed and launched an app called Shodogg that allowed people to do things like stream videos to their internet TVs from their smartphones. That project appears to have petered out, from what we can tell.

In 2021, Touchstream sued Google, accusing the tech goliath of patent infringement. David Strober, Shodogg cofounder and Touchstream president, claimed Google's Chromecast, which also allowed people to stream stuff to TVs controlled by their phones, ripped off three of his company's US patents. Those three were:

  • 8,356,251: Play control of content on a display device (filed 2011, granted 2013)
  • 8,782,528: Play control of content on a display device (filed 2013, granted 2014)
  • 8,904,289: Play control of content on a display device (filed 2011, granted 2014)

It was claimed by Touchstream that back in December 2011, Google and Touchstream had discussed how they could work together and Google decided a couple of months later against pursuing a collaboration. The Chrome browser maker launched its video-streaming Chromecast in 2013.

Touchstream's lawyers argued Google knew about Stober's small-to-big-screen-casting technology before he was able to formally patent the designs, and stole his ideas for its Chromecast products. Strober said he invented technology for streaming media from small devices, such as phones, to bigger screens in 2010.

Google, on the other hand, argued the Touchstream patents were invalid, and denied any wrongdoing.

"Google knew about the patent applications leading to the Touchstream patents by no later than December 2011," Touchstream's complaint [PDF] claimed. "Google also knew, or at the very least should have known, of the issued Touchstream patents on or shortly after the date each such patent was issued, beginning with the '251 Patent that issued in January 2013.

"At no point in 2011, 2012, or 2013 did Google reach out to Touchstream about potentially acquiring a license to Touchstream's pending or awarded patents, and to this day Google has not requested or received a license to any of the Touchstream patents."

A federal jury ultimately found in favor of Touchstream, and said Google must pay $338.7m in damages, a mere two percent of the $15 billion profit its parent Alphabet reported in the first three months of this year. 

The case isn't quite over. A Google spokesperson told The Register the biz is going to appeal the decision, and again denied infringing Touchstream's patents.

"We strongly disagree with the verdict and will appeal. We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merits of our ideas, and will continue to defend ourselves against these meritless claims," the spokesperson said.

The Register has asked Touchstream's legal representative for further comment. ®

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