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December 27, 2007
Google One Up, One Down in Patent Decision
According to Peter Sayer's piece in PC World, Google is in the clear on its AdSense service, but the claims made by Hyperphrase Technologies against the Google Toolbar's autolink function need reexamination.
Let's see if I can unpack that a bit. Back in April of '06, Hyperphrase sued Google for infringement of four patents. That suit was dismissed in a summary judgement. Hyperphrase appealed and got a partial win at the CAFC on Wednesday of this week.
The items at issue relate to two of the patents, and the ability that the AutoLink technology has to parse certain fragments out of Web pages and turn them into links. One classic demo for this is to parse an ISBN or other book identifier out of a paragraph of text and then wrap an href around that identifier so that the identifier becomes a link to an online seller of that book.
Since this is Copyfight and not one of my interaction design lists, I'll elide the snide commentary about how thoroughly obnoxious this feature is, both from a presentation point of view and from the point of view of asserting control over the browsing experience. OK, maybe I won't totally elide them. This is relevant because astute readers may remember an old Microsoft feature called "SmartTags" that did something substantially similar and was roundly thrashed by users and reviewers who hated it. Well, it turns out Hyperphrase sued MSFT back in '03 over SmartTags and had their claims summarily thrown out back then.
Some people are slow learners, I guess, or just really persistent.
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