Image from Google’s Project Loon webpage.

Judicial estoppel made a surprise appearance before Judge Freeman on May 18, 2018 when she heard (and denied) Space Data Corporation’s (“Space Data”) motion for partial summary judgment that Alphabet Inc. and Google LLC (collectively, “Google”) are judicially estopped from claiming that Space Data’s asserted claims are invalid.

Space Data accuses Google’s “Project Loon”—a project that uses balloons to provide wireless Internet access to remote locations[1]—of infringing U.S. Patent No. 9,678,193 (“the ’193 patent”).  Google had a patent of its own that covered balloon communication systems, U.S. Patent No. 8,820,678 (“the ’678 patent”), against which Space Data initiated an interference proceeding to establish that its patent had priority over Google’s.  Google did not oppose Space Data’s priority claim and, consequently, the PTAB issued a ruling in Space Data’s favor.


Continue Reading