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Here is a mini review of the interview by The Register:
The gist of the story is that Alta owns 38 "major" patents covering spidering and indexing. It is rather gray area since many of the patents appear to over run territory of other patents owned by non other the the N ational S ecurity A gency of the United States. The N S-A is rumored to hold close to 100 patents covering a wide array of data mining, indexing, and interpretation on both text AND voice and languages skills (read: they can hook it up to a phone line and get a print out on-the-fly of all audio conversations in dozens different languages - re: e-c h elon).
I think it is laughable. Let em try to sue because other search engines "violate" their patents. They will have to take on ~everybody~.
That is true, so far as I can attest. We were all swapping reciprocals on our "other links" pages or submitting to various directories until Digital rolled out AV to show off their computer technology. Like the Unisys patent on .gifs, I expect AV has something here on the spidering aspect.