Charles Knight, who is now the Search Editor at Nextweb pointed me to a Bloomberg report at BusinessWeek, Google, Yahoo Sued by Xerox Over Search Query Patents.
The patent infringement complaint (PDF – 308k) contains claims that specifically name the following programs as infringing Xerox’s patented technology: Google’s Adsense and Adwords programs, Google Maps, Google Video, and YouTube, as well as Yahoo’s Search Marketing and Publisher Network, Y!Q Contextual Search, and Yahoo Shopping.
The article provided descriptions of the Xerox patents in question, but didn’t identify the patents themselves. While I was able to find one of the two patents from a search at the patent office, the other patent eluded me. I registered with, and signed on to the Federal Government’s PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system to look at the complaint and find the other patent.
Xerox filed the case in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware on February 19th, and asks the Court for cash damages and an order that would keep Google, Yahoo, and YouTube from continuing to “use” the technology described under the patents in question, without permission.
The case number in US District Court for the District of Delaware is 1:10-cv-00136-UNA, and answers haven’t been filed yet by the defendants.
Within the complaint, Xerox claims that the processes described in their patent System for automatically generating queries , are being used to automatically generate queries based upon the content of web pages that show related advertisements through Google’s Adsense and Adwords programs, as well as through Yahoo’s Search Marketing and Publisher Network.
Yahoo’s Y!Q Contextual Search, which I believe is no longer available, is also described in the complaint as “a system that automatically generates queries based on the content of web pages to retrieve information related to the pages.” I did write about Y!Q a while back, and you can get an idea of how it worked from my post, if you somehow missed it – Y!Q didn’t seem to catch on with a wide audience.
The other Xerox patent, Method and Apparatus for the Integration of Information and Knowledge, is claimed as being infringed by Google Maps, Google Video, YouTube videos and Yahoo Shopping.
The author of the BusinessWeek article attempted to contact Google and Yahoo to see if they would comment upon the civil action filed by Xerox. Google’s Google’s senior litigation counsel responded, claiming that the case was without merit, while Yahoo hadn’t returned messages left with them at the time of publication of the article.
More about the Xerox patents named in the complaint:
System for automatically generating queries
Invented by Gregory T. Grefenstette and James G. Shanahan
Assigned to Xerox Corporation
US Patent 6,778,979
Granted August 17, 2004
Filed: December 5, 2001
A system generates a query using an entity extractor, a categorizer, a query generator, and a short run aspect vector. The entity extractor identifies a set of entities in selected document content for searching information related thereto using an information retrieval system.
The categorizer defines an organized classification of document content with each class in the organization of content having associated therewith a classification label that corresponds to a category of information in the information retrieval system.
The categorizer assigns the selected document content a classification label from the organized classification of content. A query generator formulates a query that restricts a search at the information retrieval system to the category of information in the information retrieval system identified by the assigned classification label.
The short length aspect vector generator generates terms for further refining the query using context information surrounding the set of entities in the selected document content.
Method and Apparatus for the Integration of Information and Knowledge
Invented by Ronald M. Swartz, Jeffrey L. Winkler, Evelyn A. Janos, Igor Markidan, and Qun Dou
Assigned to Xerox Corporation
United States Patent 6,236,994
Granted May 22, 2001
Filed: June 29, 1998
The present invention is a method and apparatus for first integrating the operation of various independent software applications directed to the management of information within an enterprise.
The system architecture is, however, an expandable architecture, with built-in knowledge integration features that facilitate the monitoring of information flow into, out of, and between the integrated information management applications so as to assimilate knowledge information and facilitate the control of such information.
Also included are additional tools which, using the knowledge information enable the more efficient use of the knowledge within an enterprise, including the ability to develop a context for and visualization of such knowledge.