Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Google sued over possible patent infringement

Google is being sued by Northeastern University for supposedly using university patented code in the web giant’s search system.

I for one think this lawsuit is ridiculous.

The lawsuit is fairly straight forward, and even believable. It is very plausible in my mind that Google’s search engine may contain some patent infringing code and concepts. Most big technological innovations do. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Microsoft’s court history. It is filled with infringement cases, perhaps most notably the “look and feel” lawsuit filed by Apple in 1988. Although Apple would lose this case, it proves my point. Infringement happens.

But what is different in this case is the timing of the lawsuit. The technology in question was patented in 1997, which is a full ten years ago. Worse, the president of Jarg Corp, the company in charge of licensing the technology, said they knew about the infringement for a long time.

Hmm, it sounds like a classic get rich quick scheme to me. Of course the university had to wait until now to sue, citing a lack of resources. Or was it the fact that Google has in the last couple of years become a corporate juggernaut? I just don’t believe that they had to wait until now. They simply waited because they stand to benefit more from a lawsuit now than they would have three or four years ago. Google’s stock is hovering well above $600 a share right now, and I believe that this group of people only wants a piece of the proverbial pie.

It is too bad really. I am getting so sick of these frivolous lawsuits where people just want to make a quick buck. Do I condone the fact that Google may be infringing on Jarg Corp’s patent? No, of course not. However, my response to Jarg Corp is that just because Google managed to make a ton of money using similar technology and you didn’t, live with it.

But, instead you’re going to be sitting pretty with a nice little settlement from Google.

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