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Xerox sues Google, Yahoo!

Xerox sues Google, Yahoo!

Xerox is alleging that major products from Google and Yahoo! infringe a pair of entries in its patent portfolio.

Xerox has set its sights on search giants Google and Yahoo! after filing suits against the companies alleging patent infringement.

As reported over on ARN, the company - which pioneered many of the technologies used in modern computing in its famous Palo Alto Research Centre - is accusing Google and Yahoo of infringing US Patent No. 6,778,979 and 6,236,994, on a system for automatically generating queries for an information retrieval system and a method and apparatus for the management of information and knowledge within an enterprise environment respectively.

Xerox is accusing Google and Yahoo! of infringing the newer of the two patents - 6,778,979, which was filed in 2001 and granted in 2004 - with their AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing products, which represent the main source of income for the two companies. A threat to that revenue stream is likely to cause some sleepless nights for executives, and possibly even make the companies more likely to accede to demands for licensing fees from Xerox rather than risk an injunction.

The second accusation is that the earlier patent - 6,236,994, which was filed in 1998 and granted in 2001 - is infringed by the company's maps, video streaming, and shopping comparison services due to their ability to integrated data held in different sources into a single unified interface.

Whilst a lawsuit from someone as big as Xerox is bad news for the two companies, life gets worse for Google: according to V3.co.uk the company is also facing an investigation into anti-competitive behaviour from the European Union following complaints from price comparison site Foundem, lawyer-themed search engine eJustice, and shopping portal Ciao - which is currently owned by Microsoft.

Are you surprised to see Xerox going after two major players in the search engine market this way, or does the company have the right to defend itself against patent infringement? Should the patents have even been granted in the first place? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

19 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
eddtox 24th February 2010, 15:13 Quote
Patent troll, anyone? Is it just me or does xerox seem to have a patent on everything remotely related to computers? What does xerox actually do these days? Only thing I can think of is printers.
mi1ez 24th February 2010, 15:19 Quote
I heart USA
dolphin-promotions 24th February 2010, 15:19 Quote
Dont forget the 3 former Google employees that have just been given a suspended sentence for breaking privacy laws over a video on Google Video.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/7307442/Google-to-appeal-Italian-court-ruling.html

Bad day for Google all around.
frojoe 24th February 2010, 16:41 Quote
That Italian legal decision is scariest news I've seen in a while.
tank_rider 24th February 2010, 17:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
Patent troll, anyone? Is it just me or does xerox seem to have a patent on everything remotely related to computers? What does xerox actually do these days? Only thing I can think of is printers.

Hardly a patent troll, most patents come from actual products developed and available in the market. Document solution is essentially the easiest way to sum up the business, in terms of anything related to documents or information management, right from data entry, to handling, to transmitting it, to printing it, so a very broad range of technologies are used.
eddtox 24th February 2010, 17:44 Quote
So are you saying that xerox invented and patented search and yahoo and google have to pay them for it? Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?
pendragon 24th February 2010, 17:56 Quote
Xerox has been so hugely mismanaged throughout the years I wouldn't be surprised if they did invent everything Google uses, but didn't have any foresight to protect/develop it.. I'm so glad my dad is finally retiring from working there for the past 36 years
tank_rider 24th February 2010, 18:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
So are you saying that xerox invented and patented search and yahoo and google have to pay them for it? Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?

Read the article, not just the heading, all the details are in the 200 or so words!

pendragon is write, there was a time when Xerox didn't patent their developments and as such missed out on exclusivity of their inventions of windowed UIs, mice and ethernet. That's one of the reasons there is such a culture of patenting in the company today.
eddtox 24th February 2010, 19:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tank_rider
Read the article, not just the heading, all the details are in the 200 or so words!

pendragon is write, there was a time when Xerox didn't patent their developments and as such missed out on exclusivity of their inventions of windowed UIs, mice and ethernet. That's one of the reasons there is such a culture of patenting in the company today.

I did read the article and I even followed the patent links but they seem awfully general to me. Maybe my brain isn't working right?
Mraedis 24th February 2010, 20:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
I did read the article and I even followed the patent links but they seem awfully general to me. Maybe my brain isn't working right?

The problem is these patents apply to anything that fits the description, even if they didn't actually make those things.
RichCreedy 24th February 2010, 22:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mraedis
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
I did read the article and I even followed the patent links but they seem awfully general to me. Maybe my brain isn't working right?

The problem is these patents apply to anything that fits the description, even if they didn't actually make those things.

thats why patents should be discontinued or have a maximum of 5 years for companies to develope and manufacture, after that it becomes a free for all
deadsea 25th February 2010, 00:28 Quote
Well the auto query patent sounds so vague that it actually resembles MS access. But then again, MS has too big of a wallet., could just squash them with loose change.

Wonder if we could patent the process of filing of overly generalised, sweeping patents and sitting on them as a source of income. Then we could troll the patent trolls!!
tpy_roker 25th February 2010, 00:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
thats why patents should be discontinued or have a maximum of 5 years for companies to develope and manufacture, after that it becomes a free for all

This is just crazy.

Can you imagine R+D companies spending millions on development only for it all to be lost after 5 years? We would see less and less technological development. The patent system protects companies and individuals that invest money, sometimes their entire life savings.

If you want to use someone a patented idea from another company then negotiate a license with them. Don't steal the idea. If there is justification in this case then Xerox should be compensated.
Lazarus Dark 25th February 2010, 03:26 Quote
So... who isn't suing Google right now? I swear everywhere I turn this week someone is suing Google or the EU is trying to steal money from them.
Hawkest 25th February 2010, 09:18 Quote
"maps, video streaming, and shopping comparison services due to their ability to integrated data held in different sources into a single unified interface."

sounds like information to me, is xerox going to take everyone to court that puts together data and present's it in a formative way?
Mraedis 25th February 2010, 10:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadsea
Wonder if we could patent the process of filing of overly generalised, sweeping patents and sitting on them as a source of income. Then we could troll the patent trolls!!

You still need to be in possession of something that fits the patent's decription. ;)
eddtox 25th February 2010, 10:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tpy_roker
This is just crazy.

Can you imagine R+D companies spending millions on development only for it all to be lost after 5 years? We would see less and less technological development. The patent system protects companies and individuals that invest money, sometimes their entire life savings.

If you want to use someone a patented idea from another company then negotiate a license with them. Don't steal the idea. If there is justification in this case then Xerox should be compensated.

I agree with you, except here is the clincher: can you prove that the idea is stolen? Those two patents essentially encompass almost everything that goes on in computers and I highly doubt that the whole industry stole the idea from xerox.
tank_rider 25th February 2010, 12:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox


I agree with you, except here is the clincher: can you prove that the idea is stolen? Those two patents essentially encompass almost everything that goes on in computers and I highly doubt that the whole industry stole the idea from xerox.

If the defence can prove the idea existed before the patent was granted then it invalidates the patent. Looks like it will be down to precise wording which is why the whole patent process takes so long in the first place, getting all the lawyer wording sorted!
tad2008 27th February 2010, 14:35 Quote
The whole auto-query could be applied to so many things, including macros in a spreadsheet! I can only presume that the complete patent wording is a lot more concise.

I think it's time the patent process required a working example, prototype or something similar to make a patent application possible rather than just a random idea that is chosen and then basically documented for abuse later on. It should not matter whether or not the company or person goes ahead with production of the content of their patent, but they should at least show willing.
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