Wow! This is some big news. You have to wonder if Apple might be thinking about some old patents from Zerox in the early days? In any case, treble damages with a base of something like $250k per infringment? Yikes, a guy might decide he needs a clear path to the door just to survive? I guess is once you have been notified, you got extra problems?
Xerox is not a name that springs to mind when one thinks of search. It is, after all, a 100-year-old global document-management company best known for its office and production equipment. Odd, then, to hear that Xerox has accused Google and Yahoo of pilfering intellectual property.
In lawsuits filed last week, Xerox (XRX) alleges that Google’s AdSense and AdWords and Yahoo’s Search Marketing, Publishing Network and Y!Q Contextual Search software all violate its 2001 patent for a “System for automatically generating queries.”
Xerox further claims that Google Maps, Google Video, YouTube, and Yahoo Shopping infringe on its 2004 patent, “Method and Apparatus for the Integration of Information and Knowledge.”
Xerox is seeking treble damages for the alleged infringements, which it claims are willful. Evidently, it attempted to negotiate licensing deals with the search companies that would have precluded legal action, but was rebuffed.
“We’ve been in dialogue with Google and Yahoo for some time without coming to a resolution,” company spokesperson Bill McKee told Bloomberg. “We believe we have no option but to file suit to properly protect our intellectual property.”
Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO), for their parts, dispute Xerox’s allegations. “These claims are entirely without merit, and we’ll vigorously defend ourselves against them,” Catherine Lacavera, Google’s senior litigation counsel, said in an emailed statement. A Yahoo representative offered a similar comment: “Yahoo does not believe we infringe and plans to fight this case.”