Mistrial in Overture ad patent dispute

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A patent infringement dispute between Overture Services, a subsidiary of Yahoo!, and rival FindWhat.com has ended in a mistrial after a California jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case over a method of ranking search results.

The dispute dates back to January 2002 when Pasadena-based Overture, formerly known as GoTo, filed a lawsuit alleging that FindWhat.com had infringed a patent relating to a “system and method for influencing a position on a search result list generated by a computer network search engine.”

The trial has now collapsed.

"We continue to believe that FindWhat.com has never infringed any valid and enforceable claim of the '361 patent," said Craig Pisaris-Henderson, FindWhat.com's chairman and CEO.

According to FindWhat.com, the judge has yet to rule on the issue of whether the patent is unenforceable because of alleged inequitable conduct by Overture. A hearing on this and other issues is scheduled for 24th June.

Overture filed a similar action against Google in April 2002. That case settled shortly before Google’s floatation last year with the announcement that Google would get a licence to several patents relating to paid placements in search results. In return, Google agreed to give 2.7 million shares to Yahoo!

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