TruePosition alleges plot against its 9-1-1 location system

It has sued Qualcomm, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, saying they tried to block its technology from standards

TruePosition, the developer of technology used by some carriers to pinpoint 9-1-1 calls, says Ericsson, Qualcomm and Alcatel-Lucent have worked together to keep TruePosition's technology out of next-generation networks in favor of their own technology.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, TruePosition also names the standards-setting bodies 3GPP and ETSI, which it said failed to ensure fair and objective standards development.

TruePosition alleged that Ericsson, Qualcomm and Alcatel-Lucent, all of which have patents related to a competing location technology, placed their employees as chairmen of standards-setting groups in order to deliberately exclude TruePosition's technology from the LTE (Long-Term Evolution) standard. LTE is the next-generation or "4G" mobile technology being deployed by most operators.

The companies had the shared goal to "seize unfair competitive advantages for the positioning technologies in which they hold economic interests," TruePosition alleged in the suit.

The chairmen set unfair test parameters for TruePosition's technology far in excess of the parameters set for their favored technologies, the company said. They submitted deliberately skewed simulation results and deliberately shuttled evaluations of TruePosition's technology into working groups they controlled for the purpose of "quashing" inclusion of competitive technologies in the standard, according to the suit.

TruePosition's technology is used by both T-Mobile and AT&T, which together have installed it in 90,000 base stations in the U.S., TruePosition said.

The company said it has had trouble with base station providers before. Around 2001, base station vendors had developed their own positioning technology that they included in their products. But according to TruePosition, once the technology was deployed, it failed to meet accuracy requirements set by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

TruePosition's technology could meet those requirements, but there was no standard way to connect its equipment with the base stations. TruePosition created a way to do so, but it was expensive and opposed by Ericsson, TruePosition said. As a result, operators asked the base station providers to get together and create a standard and thus inexpensive way to interface with TruePosition's technology. They agreed, and that standard interface was then included in future mobile standards, including for 3G, TruePosition said. That standard enabled TruePosition to sell its technology to operators.

It's with the move to 4G that the base station makers are trying to include only their technology, which is based on the same system that failed initially, TruePosition said.

Alcatel-Lucent declined to comment on the lawsuit. Qualcomm said that it only learned of the complaint on Wednesday and is in the process of reviewing it. Ericsson did not reply to a request for comment.

TruePosition is asking for damages and protection against further anticompetitive activity.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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