Judge Dismisses Patent Lawsuit Against Google

The judge says Google's search tool bar involves "an entirely different process, which achieves an entirely different result in an entirely different way" and throws out the complaint.

Google has won dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a small Wisconsin software company involving patents for database search technology.

HyperPhrase Technologies of Madison, Wis., in a lawsuit filed last April, had claimed that the popular, freely distributed Google search tool bar infringed upon its own proprietary search mechanism.

HyperPhrase aimed its lawsuit at the Google tool bar, its AutoLink feature allowing users to link to information on selected Web sites, and AdSense, Googles technology for placing ads on its site.

HyperPhrase asked for unspecified damages and for Google to stop using the technology.

However, U.S. District Judge John C. Shabaz, in a decision (here in PDF) issued Dec. 20 but made public Dec. 27, said neither Googles AutoLink nor AdSense programs infringed on HyperPhrases patents and granted Googles request to throw out the suit.

HyperPhrases tool bar, like Googles, can be added to an Internet browser and used to identify additional sources of information for certain types of information in a pre-existing Web page.

Shabaz defined the HyperPhrase and Google technologies as unconnected.

AdSense uses "an entirely different process which achieves an entirely different result in an entirely different way" than the HyperPhrase product, Shabaz wrote.

"There is no reasonable argument that the AdSense product infringes any of the asserted claims," Shabaz wrote.

William Flachsbart, an attorney representing HyperPhrase, told a local newspaper Dec. 27 that his client likely would appeal Shabazs ruling.

The disputed patents for storing, retrieving and searching data on computer systems were issued earlier in 2006 for applications that were filed by HyperPhrase in 1999 and 2002, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

HyperPhrases founder and CEO, Carlos de la Huerga, could not be reached for comment.

"Google fights aggressively against patent infringement claims that we believe are without merit, and we are pleased that Judge Shabaz agreed with our position in this case and rejected HyperPhrases claims of infringement.," said Michelle K. Lee, associate general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy for Google.

De la Huerga also sued Microsoft over the same issue in Windows XP in 2002, contending infringement of three of its patents—including one involved in the Google case—but a federal judge also ruled against HyperPhrase in 2003 after Microsoft requested a summary judgment.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about the ruling against HyperPhrase.

Google, in Mountain View, Calif., still faces a couple of legal challenges: a patent dispute involving its Google Earth map-search service and a copyright issue over its Google Book electronic Internet library.

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...