A Seattle-based company has filed a lawsuit against telecommunications giant AT&T Inc, for allegedly stealing its patented “twinning” technology, that allows multiple devices such as watches and tablets respond to calls placed to a single phone number.
Network Apps LLC alleges that AT&T abandoned joint development and licensing agreements for its technology in 2014 after realizing it would owe a “fortune” in royalties because the market for smart devices was exploding, only to then incorporate the technology a year later in its own product, NumberSync.
Network Apps, formerly called Mya Number, said AT&T has not paid required royalties since October 2015.
Reuters reported that Network Apps LLC filed a complaint on Tuesday in a Manhattan federal court against AT&T that alleges the NumberSync product is the same as its own technology simply with “cosmetic changes.”
“Our technology is an eloquent solution for a critical problem at a critical time in the industry,” said Network Apps co-founders John Wantz and Kyle Schei in a joint statement, according to Reuters. According to Wantz and Schei, they had been forced to downscale their company’s operations due to “AT&T’s decision to steal our technology.”
According to AT&T’s website, NumberSync lets consumers make and receive calls on smartwatches, tablets, computers and compatible Alexa-enabled devices without having to download appsor engage in “call-forwarding acrobatics.”
Network Apps LLC is seeking at least $450 million of damages, which it says should be multiplied by three for a total of $1.3 billion to reflect AT&T’s alleged “willful and egregious infringement,” plus royalties for any future infringements.
AT&T said in a statement it will review the lawsuit when received and respond in court
This is not the first time AT&T has faced a major lawsuit. In 2019, the Dallas-based company paid $60 million in settlement to the Federal Trade Commission over allegations of misleading consumers with “unlimited data” claims.
The amount was used to provide partial or full refunds to the affected users who signed up for unlimited plans but instead had their data speeds “throttled” — or reduced.