Feeds

Texas patent holder sues Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft

And (yawn) AOL

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A Texas company has sued AOL, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, claiming that all four web giants have infringed its patent "for conducting business transactions over the Internet".

Performance Pricing Inc. filed suit last week in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, a popular place for patent infringement suits. The company insists that four of the biggest names on the net are stepping on its patent with their ad technologies, including Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and the Google-powered AOL Search Marketplace.

"Defendants have used, and continue to use, Plaintiff Performance Pricing's patented technology methods and systems that they make, use, sell, and offer to sell, without Plaintiff's permission," the suit reads. "Plaintiff seeks damages for patent infringement and an injunction preventing Defendants from making, using, selling, or offering to sell technology claimed by the patent without Plaintiff's permission."

Think that's dodgy English? Wait 'til you read the patent.

Dubbed "Systems and methods for transacting business over a global communications network such as the Internet," the patent describes a method "for conducting business transactions over the Internet, allowing buyers to reduce the price of the selected product/service based on the buyer's performance during a collateral activity."

Yes, this is a business process patent.

Paying the ultimate price

"Sellers offer the product/service within a specified price range, and buyers accept the offer, in exchange for the opportunity to close the transaction at the lowest price offered by achieving a high score during the collateral activity," the patent continues. "The ultimate price is within the agreed upon range, but is determined based upon the buyer's performance during the collateral activity."

The patent also says that this process can be applied all sorts of activities - both online and off - including video games, electronic board games, sports betting, and card games.

According to Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University law professor and tech law blogger, the suit resembles the sort of "lawsuits that we're concerned about when we worry about patents being used as a way of shaking down people for cash as opposed to advancing social interests".

Congress is considering a bill that would overhaul patent litigation, and both Google and Microsoft have lobbied in its favor. The bill would make things more difficult for plaintiffs like Performance Pricing - but it might undermine legitimate startups as well

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.