The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that Google’s AdSense program did not infringe on any patents as alleged by Hyperphrase Technologies. However the court overturned part of a lower court decision, landing Google’s AutoLink browser tool back in court.
- Hyperphrase Technologies initially filed a lawsuit against Google in April 2006, making claims that AdSense and AutoLink infringed claims in four Hyperphrase patents related to contextual linking and presentation of information.
- The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin made a judgment in Google’s favor, which Hyperphrase appealed.
- On Wednesday, part of that first decision was upheld, as related to AdSense, but another portion of the case relating to the AutoLink browser tool was overturned.
- This part of the case alleges that Google infringes on two Hyperphrase patents, and the latest ruling sent the case back to district court to be reexamined.
The AutoLink browser tool parses web pages for fragments of text in certain formats, and then transforms them into links to web pages deemed appropriate and relevant. For example, it will automatically link all U.S . street addresses and vehicle identification (VIN) numbers, as well as package tracking numbers, and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs).
After examining the case, the Court of Appeals found that the district court had considered an inappropriate interpretation for “data reference”, which was one of the terms used in the patent infringement claims that describes the way a link is made between a text fragment and an element in a database. So sending the case back to the district court, they will now be charged with determining whether or not AutoLink infringes Hyperphrase’s patents under the new interpretation suggested by the court of appeals.
With the case now back in the hands of the district court, however, they will not be permitted to touch the AdSense claims, which are already in the clear. Being that that is Google’s biggest cash cow, they are likely both relieved and not too worried about the remaining AutoLink patent infringement claim.