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Overture Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Google

     
5:39 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The lawsuit charges Google with infringement of Overture's U.S. Patent No. 6,269,361. The '361 Patent protects various features and innovations relating to bid-for-placement products and Overture's Pay-For-Performance search technologies including its DirecTraffic Center account management system and tools.

PR [corporate-ir.net]

5:57 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I was wondering how long it would take them to do that. My guess is they'll duke it out for a few months and then settle out of court with a deal that merges the two companies.

Look for them to relaunch under the name Gooverture by 2003.

6:00 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Interesting one to watch.

WG - surely 'Ovoogle' has a better ring to it.

6:13 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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OooOooo come on the company cant compete ? Arnt there a million other companies?
6:13 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Isn't Overture still locked up in a suit with Findwhat over the validity of that patent?

Could end up being WhatGoogleOver...

DG

6:37 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I believe you are correct Digitalghost in that they are still involved in the case with FindWhat.

I'll see if I can find out where that stands.

7:03 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Another article on it:
[news.com.com...]
7:09 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Seems like they would have waited until this was decided:

[internetnews.com...]

Yeesh, my pager has scrolled the NASDAQ report about this story 15 times in 15 minutes. :)

DG

7:12 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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FindGoogle (results within) OvertureWhat?
7:25 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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In other stupid patents...Amazon patents Christmas. :)
7:27 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I don't get it... Google doesn't sell placements in search results, the results themselves are totally unpaid for. Google does sell ads linked to search terms, but so does almost every major search engine. I wonder if Google would be being sued if they used ad banners instead of text ads.
7:28 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Can we take the OVER, FWHT and GIPO "name ideas" to FOO please.

Thank you and have a nice day.

7:36 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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What are they saying? Some please explain this law suit to me.

Overture says that Google used something that they already produced and patented. What did they patent?

How do they know Google is using it? Did they break into Google's system. I just don't understand.

Thanks

7:44 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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PATENT [patft.uspto.gov]

"A system and method for enabling information providers using a computer network such as the Internet to influence a position for a search listing within a search result list generated by an Internet search engine. The system and method of the present invention provides a database having accounts for the network information providers. Each account contains contact and billing information for a network information provider. In addition, each account contains at least one search listing having at least three components: a description, a search term comprising one or more keywords, and a bid amount."

7:47 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>The lawsuit charges Google with infringement of Overture's U.S. Patent No. 6,269,361....

Time for us all to see how Google plays the game in the big corporate league.

The merits of the case will be revealed - but good to see a bit of a fight going on. I (for one) am a bit tired of the 'Google is the Ultimate' threads that go on and on and on and on and...

IMHO Google Adwords PPC is an entirely different mechanism to Overture - but I think it is refreshing to see someone standing up for what they believe against an SE that is gaining more control than is healthy for an open market.

As always - this is totally my personal opinion - which I respectfully expect to be shot down in flames. :)

8:06 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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but I think it is refreshing to see someone standing up for what they believe against an SE

No flames here. :) I would second that if I thought they felt they were actually being infringed upon. I see the litigious nature of our society in a suspect light though and I think this is an attempt to unfairly claim some of the market.

Society likes winners but seems to hate successful companies. The "fear and loathing" seems to be directly proportional to the level of success.

The litmus test of success in America isn't the profit margin, it is how many other companies would like to sue. Google attained their success by providing more relevant results quicker than any other SE in the industry, and now that success is already being seen as unhealthy. Makes it tough to play the game if people are only happy when you lose...

DG

8:09 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Mike.

In other words this holds no weight. Just a PR stunt.

8:28 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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But do you guys see where this is going?
<rant>
The Internet is supposed to be free and give even the little guys (us) a level playing field. But could you imagine everytime you wanted to start a website and offer a superior service getting slapped with a lawsuit by some huge company? Google can fight a lawsuit like this, but can you?

Patents are useful, but it seems like these days, they are being used to stifle competition and innovation.
</rant>

8:30 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Agreed, this is the kind of stuff companies thrive on - their technology. Sure its cool and all we get to list our sites on google with what we could do on overture for cheaper but thats the point.

ps - i still have 50.00 in my overture account couz they wont let me list any keywords for my pages - all rejected for some reason or another.

8:32 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>I see the litigious nature of our society in a suspect light though..

Having lived in the US for more than 10 years, I agree with this sentiment totally. I was put out of business once by being sued by a huge multi-national on a case which probably had no merit (but I would say that) - but where I could not afford a proper defence. However this is not a 'David and Goliath' situation. Two pretty large players in the SE realm are set to 'duke
it out'. Rather than condemn it as a publicity stunt (which it may well be) - I see it as two completely different (and previously opposite) advocates of what constitutes a search engine heading up for an interesting battle - a traditional (Google) SE crossing into a completely commercial (Overture) SE's territory.

This could be an interesting and revealing contest. It could also have big ramifications on the recently announced LookSmart switch to PPC ;)

>The Internet is supposed to be free...

It still is for most sites who are not selling something. For those that are commercial sites - well, the little guy can still win by employing a good SEO - most of the big guys haven't got 'round to it yet :)

8:58 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I view it as a mixture of publicity and panic. Panic because of the march Google has started into Goverture territory.

To all intents and purposes Goverture seems to be claiming any PPC technology is a breach. Absolute rubbish.

Yes, timing is everything. Interesting that their suit against Findwhat was launched at the point at which Findwhat looked like it might emerge as a serious competitor.

Also interesting that this suit appears when Google starts to really hurt them.

The sad fact is that legal action is all too often the refuge of a scoundrel.

9:18 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I'm holding off judgement on this thing until I see more details of the suit. On one hand, I can see Overture did get a patent on the bidding for placement. Whether that patent will hold up in court is yet to be seen with the FindWhat suit itself.

On the other hand, Googles system is enough different that I wonder if the patent is applicable in this case. Google has that CPM minimum and autoadjustment in their system where Overtures doesn't. In a sense, Googles isn't bidding for placement. Additionally, Overtures displays the bid amount to the public, Googles does not. I don't know if that is enough different to matter, but there are enough of those differences, that I think they will certainly be brought up as part of the case.

The Street [searchengineworld.com]

9:41 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Well BT should sue them both for using Hyperlinks. Certain things should not be allowed to be patented. Like well... Amazon's one click! Talk about patent crazy. Next thing you know someone will patent the compression on a image. Oh wait, that already happened. Sheesh.
9:48 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Patents these days are out of hand...

You find the cure for cancer, you deserve a patent.

You shouldn't be able to patent the idea for a cure for cancer.

10:43 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I agree with Brett about Google's PPC model being different. Not only do they consider cost, but they also look at click-thru as well...which is something that Overture doesn't take into consideration. Overture it out for who can pay the most on a CPC basis whereas Google looks for relevance (and yes, cost to some extent).

Personally, what are they squaking over...they're schleping their sub-par results to Yahoo/AOL/MSN...

11:34 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Agreed, this stuff is frivolous litigation. Patents are supposed to be non-obvious aren't they?

The US govt needs to put a stop to this trend and beef up the resources allocated to evaluation of these patents. Priceline, Amazon, now Overture, it's all a bunch of BS.

1:09 am on Apr 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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"influence a position for a search listing within a search result list generated by an Internet search engine."

Sounds like someone may have to define "Internet search engine".

An internal db of advertisers probably doesn't qualify.

2:04 am on Apr 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Has anybody thought of this reason for the lawsuit?

Google has identified themselves as a "Pre-IPO" company as recently as the job recruitment link a few days ago. What is the last thing a company getting ready to go public needs?

-Bad Press, or a lawsuit.

Shame on Overture for exploiting this fact and trying to sue Google. It is painfully obvious to me they sued in hopes Google will settle quickly out of court so they can make this bad press go away, and they can focus on their upcoming IPO.

6:59 am on Apr 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Interesting find newriver :)

Job Openings at Google
... excellent benefits. Pre-IPO stock options. Spacious, colorful, fun work environment. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Source [google.com]

7:25 am on Apr 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Despite being labelled as one of makemetop's google's fan brigade, it seems to be that Google does have good PR and a brand recognition based on good, fast and non commercially influeced SERPS results in their main index.

Whether it should be or not is beyond the point - perception IS reality.

The other side to this therefore = Is Overture risking bad PR and downgrading their image because they are taking on a brand with strong perception of being fair and non-commercial, of being fair and having the high moral ground in the search engines wars from the viewpoint of the consumer? Add to this that the suit may be seen as frivolous, and to my way of thinking this move by the Gov may not only be frivolous but also badly misjudged. After all, at present Gov represents its shareholders and advertisers, Google represents google and the vast majority of Web consumers who want relevant non-commercially influenced results. The latter also realise that Google AdWords may help Google maintain the quality of their free index.

It may well turn into a fight between the "Web community" vs a private for profit company who has already tainted most search engines by determining SERP placement by pure commercial interests.

Some heavy PR investment is needed by Gov to back up a lawsuit that may have repercussions far beyond the law itself...

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