Mass. firm sues Google over 1997 patent
Off to Eastern District of Texas - again
Google is the latest tech firm to book a flight to the Eastern District of Texas, after a Boston-based firm launched a patent infringement suit at the search giant.
Jarg Corp has filed papers accusing Google of violating its 1997 patent number 5,694,593 for "Distributed Computer Database System and Method".
The patent credits Kenneth Baclawski as the inventor, and Northeastern University, where he is a professor, as the assignee. Baclawski is also a co-founder and chief technical architect of Jarg.
Key phrases from the abstract of the patent are: "A query from a user is transmitted to the front end computer which forwards the query to one of the computer nodes, termed the home node, of the search engine. The home node fragments the query and hashes the fragments of query to create an index by which the hashed query fragments are transmitted to one or more nodes on the network."
Thrillingly, it continues: "Each node on the network which receives a hashed fragment uses the fragment of the query to perform a search on its respective database. The results of the searches of the local databases are then gathered by the home node."
Jarg CEO Michael Belanger said the firm is "just interested in a normal royalty if the case determines that... Google is using the technology we developed".
Reuters reports that Baclawski filed his patent in 1997, a year before Google was formed, and he first described it in 1994. Of course, some of our older readers might dimly remember other search engines in the first half of the 1990s, and even beyond. We're pretty sure they didn't all rely on someone quickly thumbing through an encyclopaedia.
Google told Reuters it had not been served with papers, but "believe it to be without merit based on our initial investigation".
Jarg has filed its suit in the Eastern District of Texas, which is famous for its apparently indulgent attitude towards patent holders. ®
No more software patents!
I have to agree fully.
I do very small scale development from time to time. Could be a batch file to automate parts of a system maintenance, or some small program for a specific job where I can't find something suitable on the net.
For what might be 10 mins of coding on a freebie one off, I could spend hundreds of hours making sure that every routine is NOT patented somewhere. And yet, if I don't make sure that my code is not going to infringe someone's patent, I run a very real risk of ending up in some fairly serious trouble..
Fortunately, the stuff I write is so obscure that it probably won't matter if some routine for getting today's date from the computer is already patented - no one other than me is likely to know the program exists, unless the customers employ someone else to manage their weird systems.
@ Wade Burchette
"There should be some legal clause stipulating that you cannot wait to file a patent lawsuit until the offending company makes lots of money on said patent."
Er, there is. Look up "promissory estoppel" sometime. Basically, if you know that somebody is doing something that they shouldn't, but you let them get away with it anyway, you estop yourself from doing anything about it in future.
Google should file to dismiss the case on the basis that (1) the patent is invalid, on grounds of obviety and (2) the plaintiff is being a vexatious litigant.
A timely reminder
of why software patents should not exist,