Google, Yahoo Deny Xerox Patent Suit Claims

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-02-24

Google and Yahoo Feb. 23 denied infringing search technology and information integration patents owned by copier maker Xerox and vowed to vigorously defend themselves in court.

Xerox filed suit Feb. 19 alleging that products from Google and Yahoo infringe on two patents: a 2004 patent on a "system for automatically generating queries" and a 2001 patent on a "method and apparatus for the integration of information and knowledge."

Specifically, Xerox accused Google (PDF) of using its AdWords and AdSense ad platforms to automatically generate queries based on the content of Web pages to retrieve digital ads.

Xerox further claimed that the Google Maps and Google Video applications violate its 2001 patent because they integrate information related to maps and videos.

Xerox said it warned Google about these violations but was rebuffed by the company, which it claims is willfully violating the patents.

Google Senior Litigation Counsel Catherine Lacavera denied that Google violated the patents in a statement sent to eWEEK: "These claims are entirely without merit, and we'll defend vigorously against them."

However, Lacavera provided no explanation to counter Xerox's claims.

Xerox meanwhile said Yahoo's Search Marketing, Publisher Network and Y Contextual Search technologies violate the company's 2004 patent by automatically generating queries.

The printer maker also said Yahoo's Shopping e-commerce service integrates information related to products and therefore violates Xerox's method and apparatus for its integration of information and knowledge patent.

As with Google, Xerox said it had warned Yahoo of the infringement to its patents but that Yahoo continued offering its services to consumers and customers.

Yahoo spokesperson Dana Lengkeek told eWEEK, "Yahoo does not believe we infringe and plans to fight this case." Like Google, Yahoo provided no additional info.

Xerox should not expect an easy resolution in these matters. Google and Yahoo own myriad patents and it's likely that they have patented technologies that are similar to the Xerox patents.

This is part of what makes software technology patents such a sticky issue in the high-tech sector, and a big reason why Congress is considering an overhaul of the U.S. patent system, which has been in place since 1952.

Meanwhile, the federal International Trade Commission is investigating Apple's complaint that the sale of certain mobile communications and computer devices and components by Nokia infringes on nine patents held by Apple.

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