Google Patent Battle Suffers A Setback

December 27, 2007 0

Federal court says a district judge made a mistake when he dismissed the lawsuit filed by HyperPhrase Technologies in its entirety in December…

“Google must face a Wisconsin company’s lawsuit over a toolbar feature that generates Web links from search data, a federal appeals court decided in a ruling posted on Wednesday…”

Washington — A federal appeals court handed Google Inc. a setback in a patent fight on Wednesday, tossing out part of a summary judgment in the Web search engine’s favor in a lawsuit filed by HyperPhrase Technologies, LLC.


The United States Court of Appeals for the federal circuit in Washington revived part of a lawsuit filed by HyperPhrase Technologies, throwing out a lower court ruling that Google’s AutoLink feature did not infringe its patents.

As part of Google’s Web browser toolbar, “AutoLink” gives users more information than standard Web links. It recognizes data like addresses and book numbers then provides links to online maps or books on Amazon.com.

Last April, HyperPhrase Technologies, LLC and HyperPhrase Inc. had filed suit in the state of Wisconsin, accusing Google’s AdSense advertising feature, and its AutoLink product of violating four of its patents.

“HyperPhrase’s lawsuit was dismissed in its entirety in December by U.S. District Judge John Shabaz. But the district court in Wisconsin threw the case out and granted a summary judgment in favor of Google.”

In a ruling dated Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Shabaz erred when he dismissed the claims involving Google’s AutoLink feature.

Closely held HyperPhrase, based in Madison, Wis., claimed in an April 2006 lawsuit that Google had used its inventions without permission. It sought cash compensation and an order blocking Google from using the technology.

The court, though, let stand Shabaz’s decision that Google’s highly profitable AdSense advertising program did not violate any HyperPhrase patents. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said it partially upheld the summary judgment, partially vacated it and remanded the case.

“The district court’s grant of summary judgment is affirmed in part and vacated in part, and the case is remanded,” declared the court in its written decision.

Autolink’s been part of Google’s Web browser tool bar feature since 2005, and it has used to automatically layer on additional hyperlinks to Web pages. Critics have accused Google of using the feature to modify Web pages to chosen partners.

Google’s managing counsel for litigation Michael Kwun stated that he was pleased with the portion of the ruling that had to do with AdSense.

“The case is one of dozens that Google is fighting. Like many high tech firms, it regularly faces patent infringement lawsuits.”

The ruling was posted on the Internet at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/07-1125.pdf.