Category Archives: Acquisitions

Acquisitions, mergers, and strategic investments have the potential to transform the technologies that power the Web.

Xerox Helps Google Fill in Some Search Gaps: From Pre-Web to Post Panda

If Google had launched in the early 90s, it might have come out with technology that could be used to search some of the electronic databases of the day, prior to the World Wide Web, such as Lexis or Dialog. It would have developed ways to visualize results from those systems in useful ways, and custom user interfaces. It might have developed a progress bar that would show you that your search was taking place, and the system hadn’t failed, back when searches took more than milliseconds.

If Google got its start before a WWW had a place in front of its name in a browser address bar, it might have developed very similar technology to what it’s working on today, but with a slightly different approach that can be sensed when reading through a number of Web-based patents from a company like Xerox.

Google was assigned 94 granted (90) and pending (4) patents from Xerox as indicated by an assignment recorded by the United States Patent Office last week, on February 16th, 2012. The execution date of the assignment is November 10, 2011. The USPTO assignment database doesn’t include any information regarding the details of the transaction, such as financial terms.

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Google Acquires Cuil Patent Applications

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) assignment database, Google has acquired the pending patent applications of one time search rival Cuil, touted when launched as a potential Google Killer.

On July 28, 2008, the search engine Cuil went live with hopes from many that it would rival Google in technological know-how and create some competition for the search engine. Those hopes were fueled in part by the fact that search engine was started by former Google employees Anna Patterson and Russell Power, a co-founder from IBM, Tom Costello, and they were also joined by Altavista founder and ex-googler Louis Monier as well. The company received a fair amount of funding before it launched, likely in-part due to the past employment history of its founders.

When Cuil launched, it supposedly had within its index more that three times as many Web pages as Google, and ten times as many as Microsoft. It promised not to retain information about searchers past search histories or surfing patterns as a way of distinguishing itself from Google. Bloomberg News called it one of the most successful start ups of 2008, and there were some real high hopes that the new search engine would rival Google.

Things seemed to start going south for Cuil shortly after launch. After a month, Louis Monier left the company after disagreements with CEO Tom Costello. Search results were presented in a 2 column format rather than a single column, and were accompanied by thumbnail images. I noticed at the time, a few complaints about the two column format, and in my personal experience using the site, the thumbnails presented often weren’t very good choices, and not representative of the pages or topics being returned in search results. The Cuil website shut down in September of 2010, with news of a mysterious acquisition falling through surfacing a week later.

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97 Hewlett-Packard Patents Assigned to Google

At Hewlett-Packard’s global partner summit in Las Vegas yesterday, President and CEO Meg Whitman gave a keynote presentation on the state of the company and made a prediction about Google’s Android operating system:

We decided to contribute WebOS to the open source community and this will take three to four years to play out,” said Whitman. “I think there is room for another operating system. iOS is great but it is a closed system. I think that Android may end up as a closed system because of [Google’s] relationship with Motorola.

Interesting timing on a statement like that, as I noticed the appearance yesterday afternoon of the assignment of 97 patents from HP to Google in the USPTO’s patent assignment database. Then again, the assignment is listed at having been executed on 10/25/2011, and not recorded until 02/06/2012. The patents cover a wide range of technologies, including at least one search related patent on Dynamic query expansion, that Hewlett-Packard acquired at some point from Digital Equipment Corporation’s search engine AltaVista, with search pioneer Louis Monier listed as a co-inventor.

There are also a couple of patents involving Java, as well as a number involving computer architecture and distributed networking, multi-thread processing and operating systems, telecommunications and video, software and hardware monitoring, amongst others. There’s also one on auxiliary propane fuel tanks for vehicles (driver less cars?), and another on paper making.

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Google Acquires Fiber Optic Networking Patents (Kansas City and then the World?)

A few days ago, I asked the question, Is Google Aiming at Building Faster Networks and Data Transmissions? Google had acquired some interesting patent applications that have the potential to increase the speed and quality of data transmissions. An even more recent intellectual property acquisition by Google points to a growing interest in networking technology.

Google is planning on bringing ultra high speed broadband access to Kansas City, with fiber optic cable connections between homes that Google promised will deliver 1 gigabyte-per-second speeds, or a speed that’s “20,000 times faster than dial-up and more than 100 times faster than a typical broadband connection!.” That’s pretty fast. According to the Official Google Blog post, Google may be in talks with other cities to bring them this kind of high speed internet access as well.

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Is Google Aiming at Building Faster Networks and Data Transmissions?

Last July, a Google Blog post titled More Wood Behind Fewer Arrows announced the closing of Google Labs, where a number of experimental projects taking place at Google were available for the public to explore and try out. Many of those projects sprouted out of Google’s 20 percent time approach, where engineers are encouraged to spend one day a week, or 20 percent of their time, working on projects that aren’t necessarily part of their job description. Amongst those projects starting out as 20 percent time projects are Gmail, Adsense for content, Orkut, and Google Suggest. We’ve been told that the 20 percent initiative isn’t going away, but Google seems to be growing a little more secretive.

When Eric Schmidt stepped down as CEO of Google, and Larry Page took over that role, Co-Founder Sergey Brin’s position of the company was redefined as well, and we were told that he would be in charge of “special projects” at Google. A New York Times article published in November of last year told us about Google’s Lab of Wildest Dreams or a “top-secret lab in an undisclosed Bay Area location where robots run free,” referred to as Google X. This is the home of Google’s Driverless cars. It’s a place where “shoot for the stars” type technology is being explored.

It might also now be the home to a project that has roots in a technology essential to the laying of the transatlantic cable back in the 1860s, developed by Oliver Heavyside.

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IBM Assigns 217 More Patent Filings to Google including Wireless Phones and Javascript Widgets

Looks like Google and IBM are working together again to build up Google’s patent portfolio, from an update at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent assignment database. Details beyond the actual patents involved aren’t known yet. The last couple of times I wrote about large patent transactions between Google and IBM this past July and September, Google ended up sending out emails a few hours after my posts to a number of large media sites such as the New York Times, Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal, and a number of others disclosing the acquisitions. We’ll see if they do that again.

The last week of 2011, Google acquired 188 granted patents and 29 published pending patent applications from IBM, according to the USPTO assignment database, with an execution data on the assignment of the patents on December 28, 2011, in a deal that was officially recorded at the patent office on December 30, 2011.

The patents cover a broad range of topics, such as presentation software, blade servers, data caching, server load balancing, network performance, video conferencing, email administration, and instant messaging applications. A number of the patents cover specific internet, phone, and mobile phone technologies as well.

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Google Acquires Significant 3G Patents

Google acquired a number of patents from a company that’s presently suing a number of major developers of wireless hardware devices for patent infringement. The company is Gold Bridge Technology (GBT), and they tell us on their “Meeting the Challenge” page:

One of GBT’s most significant group of patents pertains to the UMTS W-CDMA Standard. All equipment manufacturers and service providers providing 3rd Generation (“3G”) wireless service adhere to the technical specifications set by this standard. GBT has a number of patents that are essential to this standard and offers for license its portfolio of UMTS patents.

An image from the USPTO database showing the assignment of patents from GBT to Google.

GBT has at least two pending lawsuits in Federal District Court in the District of Delaware based upon a couple of wireless patents 6,574,267 and 7,359,427. Those patents both have the title,”Rach ramp-up acknowledgement.” The GBT Meeting page also tells us that their Random Access Channel technology (“RACH”) Ramp up and Acknowledgment is the most widely used of their technology.

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Patent Filings from Google’s Acquisition of Apture and Katango: Highlighted Search, YouTube Sliders, and Intelligent Social Media Agents?

Imagine being able to highlight any text on a web page and search the Web based upon that text? Or an easier way to embed videos or other content in windows that will appear and open up without launching a new browser window.

Now imagine that your Google Plus Circles could engage in friend relationship management, being better at self organizing by grouping people whom you add to your Google Plus Account by whether they are co-workers, or if they live nearby, or the kind of company they work for, or the school that they went to or many other ways that might make circle management smarter and a little more fun. Now imagine that the technology behind that involves the use of intelligent social media agents that keep an eye on the social activity of your contacts.

Google revealed last Thursday that they acquired a couple of companies, seemingly both for the expertise and knowledge of the people employed by those companies and the technology that they have developed. I found the patent filings that have been assigned to both companies to try to get a deeper glimpse at some of the technologies that both companies have developed.

One of the companies that Google acquired is Apture, a business started by Tristan Harris and Can Sar, a couple of Stanford students in 2007. The Apture Website notes that the Apture team will be joining Google’s Chrome Team. That makes sense since Apture specializes in making browser experiences richer by proving text boxes that pop-out when you click upon links on a page. Apture was supplying these types of features for a number of partner sites as well as a plugin that would work with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

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