Tuesday Internet search giant Google opened the doors to Google Voice, its new communications service that links one phone number to multiple devices owned by the account holder. The service offers a number of features including voice mail, free calling nationwide, and SMS messages.
However Tuesday was also the day Frontier Communications Corp filed a complaint against Google in regards to the just-launched service. Frontier claims that Google Voice infringes upon one of its patents, and is demanding that Google shut down the service and pay unspecified damages.
The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, said that Google's deliberate infringement of the patent significantly and "irreparably" damaged Frontier. The Stamford, Connecticut-based company provides phone, Internet access, and satellite TV, and has seen a 1.5-percent drop in market value this year alone.
The patent in question--number 7,742,468 and entitled "Systems and methods for providing enhanced telephone services"--describes the Frontier invention as one that allows a subscriber "to be reached on multiple telephone lines from a single dial-in number." Indeed, the description resembles Google's new service.
Now here's the kicker: Frontier's patent is dated June 22, the same day Google officially launched Google Voice. Andrew Patterson, a spokesperson for Google, said in an email that Google believes that Frontier's claims are without merit. "We'll defend against them vigorously," he said.