WASHINGTON, Dec 26 (24hoursnews) - A federal appeals court handed Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) 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.
Hyperphrase Technologies filed suit against Google in April 2006, alleging that Google's AdSense and the AutoLink function of its toolbar infringed claims in four Hyperphrase patents relating to the contextual linking and presentation of information. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin rejected the allegations in a summary judgement in Google's favor, and Hyperphrase appealed.The appeals court ruled that Google's immensely profitable AdSense did not infringe on HyperphRase's patents. It handed down a split decision on AutoLink, agreeing that Google did not infringe, as claimed, on one of the HyperphRase patents. But it vacated a summary judgment in Google's favor on two others and sent it back to the Wisconsin district court.
In Wednesday's ruling on the Google-Hyperphrase case, the court of appeals upheld the judgement of the district court regarding AdSense. The way AdSense infers the topic of a Web page to associate it with keywords that may not appear on the page, and link those keywords to advertisements, did not constitute use of a "data reference" in the sense of the Hyperphrase patents at issue, the district court had found, and the court of appeals agreed.
A Google representative reached in London would not immediately comment on the court of appeals ruling.
The company's latest quarterly financial report warns that is subject to intellectual property rights claims, and may face more in the future. Such cases are costly to defend and could require it to pay damages or prevent it from using certain technologies
One such case, brought by Northeastern University in Boston and by Jarg, a company in Massachusetts that develops distributed search technologies, charges Google with infringing a patent for a method of breaking database queries into fragments and distributing them to multiple computers to get search results faster. Google has until Jan. 11 to file a response in that case.
The case is one of dozens that Google is fighting. Like many high tech firms, it regularly faces patent infringement lawsuits