There's an old, apocryphal story about a guy who was bitten by bedbugs in a train sleeper car. He wrote a letter to the railroad president. The railroad president wrote back, saying it was the first time he had ever heard of such a thing happening, he had ordered all the rail cars fumigated, and promised it would never happen again. The president also accidentally included a copy of the sender's original letter, on which was written, in the railroad president's hand, "Send this SOB the bedbug letter."
Earlier this week, Google launched the "bedbug letter" into the 21st century when it returned documents containing trade secrets to the original owner -- along with several incriminating Post-It notes revealing its plans for the newly acquired secrets.
Keep This Hush-Hush
VSL Communications, a company that makes video compression software, filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming Google stole its trade secrets. Its proof couldn't be more of a smoking gun unless Google had also mailed them a smoking gun.
The Recorder reports that Google had claimed interest in acquiring VSL and requested information about its video compression technology. Google later decided it didn't want to buy VSL and returned the VSL paperwork -- "littered with Post-Its on which Google insiders apparently had written notes about how best to make use of VSL's technology, including suggestions that Google employees destroy emails and close their eyes to possible infringement," said The Recorder.
VSL insists that all that acquisition talk was just a ploy so that Google could get its grubby hands on VSL's trade secrets. Coincidentally, the complaint observed, after Google got all of this juicy information on VSL's codec, it "amended a number of their pending patent applications to incorporate various claims of [VSL's patent] or filed for new patents which incorporated various claims of [VSL's patent]."
You may not be shocked to learn that this isn't the first time Google has been accused of stealing. Earlier this year, a federal judge in Virginia found that Google stole intellectual property for use in its AdWords system. And famously, Steve Jobs became enraged after Google announced it would be launching its own smartphone platform -- all while Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, sat on Apple's board of directors. (Schmidt resigned in 2009 to avoid "conflicts of interest.")
Google's actions are so hilariously brazen that a trial seems unnecessary. Who, outside of a James Bond villain, memorializes their evil plots in writing? Google has just entered the realm of dumb criminals leaving IDs behind at the scene of the crime.
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- Google forced to pay $85m over patent infringement (ZDNet)
- Samsung to Apple: Blame Google for Patent Infringement (Wall Street Cheat Sheet)
- Google's Street View Back in Court, Fed. Cir. Vacates and Remands (FindLaw's Federal Circuit Blog)
- Did Google Steal Android, Maps Tech From British Company BT? (FindLaw's In House)