Google and Yahoo Avoid Infringement Suit on User-Data Generated Search Method
In a case decided on March 11, 2010, nXn (formerly “PA Advisors”) filed suit against Google, Yahoo, and several other defendants alleging infringement of nXn’s patent for a “System and Method for Generating Personalized User Profiles and for Utilizing the Generated User Profiles to Perform Adaptive Internet Searches.”
The Internet searching technology “reflects the user’s cultural, educational, and social backgrounds and the user’s psychological profile” based on historic linguistic patterns identified in the user’s prior activity.
Defendants Google, Inc., and Yahoo!, Inc., moved for summary judgment of noninfringement based on 2 arguments: (1) that none of the accused services extracted “segment[s] representative of a linguistic pattern”; and (2) that the accused’s products did not “provid[e], by the user to the local computer system, search request data . . . .”
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas agreed with the Defendants’ arguments and held that the idea that the system only requires identifying words without reference to parts of speech finds no support in nXn’s patent. The patent repeatedly disparages prior art search engines that operate by running “word” searches. Furthermore, neither Google’s nor Yahoo’s system “initiates” any search. They only offer suggestions and spelling changes after the user has begun a search query. As a result, the court granted the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
By Ellen Wong