BT is suing games developer Valve over alleged copyright infringement. The telecoms operator claims Valve has used four of its patented technologies without permission and is launching a lawsuit after the company failed to respond to BT's complaints.
The target of BT's lawsuit is Valve's Steam platform, which the operator claims uses technologies it invented. Valve's Steam games library, its chat and messaging services and its game broadcasting feature are all in the firing line.
The four patents, named Gittins, Newton, Buckly, and Beddus, are all fairly generic and cover features used widely by other digital platforms, including YouTube and Amazon-owned Twitch.
BT's Gittins patent, for example, "relates generally to providing users with content that originates from multiple subscription services and delivering it through a single portal where a customer may access content for which it has access rights. The user requests content directly from the portal instead of requesting content separately from each of the subscription services.
"The portal can obtain the items from the remote sources or, alternatively, from readily-accessible storage associated with the portal where the items were previously stored so that they are available on demand."
In theory, this covers any on-demand service where customers can access content from various providers through a single platform. BT is singling out Valve on the basis that its Steam service "locally stores third-party content, such as video games, and, through the Steam platform, makes them accessible to users who have access rights, precisely as claimed".
BT's Newton patent is also somewhat of a technological fire hose. This "relates generally to a method for delivering structured messages comprised of information and data parts to an intended audience in a reliable and predictable manner. Messages are stored as files at a server for retrieval by the intended clients. Each client transmits requests for messages to the server at automatic and periodic intervals".
"Only right that BT protects its investment"
Again, this is a very general patent that essentially applies to any IP-based messaging service, although BT claims singles out Valve's Steam Chat on the grounds that it "delivers messages to users comprised of information and data parts. The messages are stored as files at a Valve server for retrieval by the intended users. The Valve software client transmits requests for messages to the Valve server at automatic and periodic intervals, which are subsequently displayed at user terminals".
The case has been filed in Delware. It is unclear exactly why BT is focusing on Valve when so many digital service providers offer a similar functionality, although the operator has previously launched a case against Google and New York-based ISP Prodigy for infringements of similarly basic tech. Google responded by launching a lawsuit of its own against BT, accusing the operator of arming patent trolls.
When contacted by IBTimes UK, a spokesperson stated: "BT's constant investment in innovation has seen it develop a large portfolio of patents which are valuable corporate assets, so it is only right that BT protects its investment."
Valve is yet to reply to a request for comment.