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, Google’s 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 Google’s AutoLink nor AdSense programs infringed on HyperPhrase’s patents and granted Google’s request to throw out the suit.
HyperPhrase’s tool bar, like Google’s, 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 Shabaz’s 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.
HyperPhrase’s 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 HyperPhrase’s 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 patentsincluding one involved in the Google casebut a federal judge also ruled against HyperPhrase in 2003 after Microsoft requested a summary judgment.
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.
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