After previously filing lawsuits against Apple and Microsoft, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based company is now suing Google for allegedly infringing on one of its patents in Google's Chrome mobile Web browser.
EMG Technology alleges in its lawsuit that Google's Chrome mobile browser illegally takes advantage of technologies that were invented by EMG's leader, Elliot Gottfurcht, under U.S. Patent 7,441,196 C1 ('196), according to a statement from EMG. The patent, which was first applied for by the inventor in 1999, relates to providing a simplified navigation system for smartphones and tablet computers.
"Google's Chrome Mobile Browser directly infringes the '196 patent by displaying mobile Web pages on smart phones and tablets using EMG's patented simplified navigation system, which permits users to navigate a touch-screen with unique inputs and to manipulate the screen for zooming and scrolling," Gottfurcht said in the statement. "Mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, made by Motorola [which is owned by Google] and Samsung, use Google's Chrome Mobile Browser to navigate mobile Websites using EMG's patented simplified navigation system."
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.EMG is seeking unspecified monetary damages as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions against Google from distributing its Chrome mobile browser in the United States. The lawsuit was filed July 10 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.
Some 40 companies already use EMG technologies under license to display and navigate their mobile Websites on smart phones and tablets, according to Gottfurcht.
In 2008 and 2009, EMG sued Apple and Microsoft, respectively, over the same patent, resulting in settlements in January 2011, according to a report from The National Law Journal. Terms of the settlements were not released.
"EMG has another four cases pending in the Eastern District of Texas that assert infringement of the same patent against major retailers, some of which have since been dismissed," The National Law Journal reported. "One case involves The Traveler's Indemnity Co., while another asserts claims against Radio Shack Corp., Avis Budget Group Inc. and Aetna Inc. Two separate suits, filed earlier this year, are pending against Macy's and Chrysler Group. "
Eric LaMorte, a patent attorney with LaMorte & Associates outside Philadelphia, said that lawsuits like this one occur often and are decided in court because that's the only way to settle the often subtle ambiguities seen in patent cases.
"The plaintiffs interpret the language of the claims one way and charge infringement," LaMorte said in an email reply. "The defendants interpret the language of the claims differently and charge non-infringement. Thus rises the typical patent-infringement lawsuit."
These kinds of cases typically come down to defendants having to make a big decision once they are slapped with such a lawsuit, he said.
"Many companies now have a choice," LaMorte wrote. "A company can spend millions to 'win' a patent-infringement lawsuit, or they can settle the matter for far less. Since patent lawsuits depend upon the interpretation of technologies, patent lawsuits depend heavily upon the use of experts. As a consequence, patent lawsuits have large price tags. The average cost of litigating a patent lawsuit easily reaches seven figures, win or lose."
The facts in the EMG-Google case are still up for review.
"In the present case, it is reported that EMG Technologies has licensed their patent to over 40 companies. This implies that the licensed companies have reviewed the patent at issue and have determined that it would be better business to pay a license than fight a lawsuit. Google is now presented with the same issue, LaMorte wrote.