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.
Earlier this year, Google acquired the patents of a real time search engine started in 2009, Wowd (a play on the word “crowd.”) Wowd had no web crawlers, but rather relied upon users downloading a browser application, so that every page they visited was nominated to be included in search results. A Press Release from February, 2010 tells us about the search engine:
Wowd is a real-time search engine for discovering what’s popular on the Web right now. Unlike other engines in the space, Wowd focuses on discovery and exploration of the entire Web, i.e. surfacing trends, breaking news, social media topics, and popular pages. Wowd then taps into the “attention frontier” of its user community to build real-time search results. Wowd makes it easy to discover the latest trends, topics, and hottest Web pages.
In August of last year, Wowd released a search tool for Facebook, to add a number of features to the Facebook experience, including custom feeds, game spam blocking, and social search. A look at the Wowd website however tells us that “the team has decided to pursue new opportunities,” with some members of the engineering team joining Facebook. There’s no date on the message.
Might Google start providing more link options in Google Instant Previews as a result of this acquisition?
A company that filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google in 2007,on the day that their last patent was granted, has now assigned all of their patents to Google. The flowchart below is from one of their patents and shows multiple link options available when someone hovers over a link.
The company, iLOR, LLC, applied for a preliminary injunction against Google’s Notebook application, and Google successfully filed a motion for summary judgment to terminate the claims against it, and was awarded around $660,000 in attorney’s fees. The case set a new standard (pdf) on appeal on when attorney’s fees should be awarded in patent infringement cases when the decision regarding the fees was reversed on appeal.
Google seems to be making a regular habit of acquiring patents from IBM, with a new acquisition of 39 granted patents and two pending patent applications on September 30th, recorded at the USPTO today. Like the earlier transactions this year of 1,030 patents tranferred in May, and 1,023 patents assigned in August, there’s a wide range of technology included in the transaction between Google and IBM.
The list of patents includes one filed in 1996 involving the use of an API and a java applet, which sounded pretty interesting (I listed it first), especially considering the ongoing Oracle-Google litigation involves java and APIs. Some of the other patents included are listed in that patent as being related to it. Other inventions include such things as file archiving approaches, distributed database information systems, encryption, user authentication, and managing configurations of computer systems.
Google and Oracle are set to go to trial on October 31st on claims that Google infringed java related patents held by Oracle, in which Oracle is claiming more than $1 Billion in damages.
In July, Google launched a beta version of their Page Speed Service, which collects content from your pages on the fly, and republishes it on a proxy, rewritten in a manner that should provide faster pages. Search Engine Watch wrote about this proxy service on July 29, 2011, and Adam Hopkinson in the comments points to details about the configuration page one sets up to control this service. The service appears to be one that Google will charge for once the beta is over.
What if Google also offered the ability to do other things through that proxy service such as offer localization of those pages, with the ability to set up translations of text on the page in different languages, or to change logos and other images for viewers from certain locations?
Imagine that rather than using machine translation, you could edit the proxy versions of your page through a browser, like the service from Israel that NETMASK Internet Technologies provides with their Netmask.IT! tool. That tool can work on webpages as well as on software products. Customers of Netmask Internet Technologies in the past, for at least the software localization that they offer, have included Siemens, Compaq, IBM, Data General, Sun, Oracle, Motorola, HP, and SGI.
It’s a tangled web when it comes to patent acqusitions and infringement lawsuits, and a scorecard isn’t enough to keep track of the all of the businesses involved and the nature of their relationships with one another, as a recent acquisition of patents by Google from Mosaid Technologies illustrates.
In mid-September it was reported that Mosaid Technologies sold $11 million worth of patents to an undisclosed technology company. The purchased involved 5 patent families that Mosaid considered non-strategic patents because there were no licensing deals in place on the patents. It was supposedly the largest sale of intellectual property by the company since they started licensing technology patents around 4 years ago.
According to the US Patent and Trademark database, Google was recently assigned a number of patents from Mosaid Technologies. The assignment was executed on September 9th, and recorded on September 20th. The patents acquired by Google sound similar to those described in the news report I linked to above, involving technologies covering flash memory, encoding data, data compression, database search, and encryption approaches. Originally, a number of these patents appear to have originated at companies other than Mosaid Technologies, including Micron Quantum Devices, Inc., Purple Ray, Inc., Integrated Silicon Solution, Inc., and Chrysalis-ITS, Inc. (which was acquired by Safenet).
If you’ve heard about Mosaid Technologies recently, it may have been because they’ve been involved in some newsworthy events. For example, they acquired Core Wireless Licensing S.a.r.l. at the start of September, which holds approximately 2,000 patents originally filed by Nokia:
In what feels like a case of deja vu, Google has recorded the acquisition of at least 1,022 patents from International Business Machines in August of this year (there’s a 1,023rd patent listed in the USTPO assignment database as well, but the patent number appears to be wrong). The USPTO recording date for the transaction is September 13, 2011, and the execution date on the document is August 17th, 2011. I wrote about a previous acquisition of patents by Google from IBM earlier this year in the post, Google Acquires Over 1,000 IBM Patents in July
As I noted in the earlier post, Google had lost a bidding match earlier this year for more than 6,000 patent filings from Nortel to a collective formed of Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC. That doesn’t seem to have stopped them from dipping from the same well a second time to acquire more intellectual property from IBM. Google has also recently acquired a very large number of patents from the purchase of Motorola Mobility.
Last week, Google sold nine patents to HTC to help them pursue a patent infringement case against Apple. Some of the patents that were transferred to HTC were acquired by Google last year when Google purchased them from Myriad Group, which I wrote about in December.
Google was recently assigned a number of unusual and interesting patents from Outland Research, LLC, from inventor Louis B. Rosenberg, a Stanford PhD, Cal Polytech Professor on leave, and most recently professional film maker. A number of Rosenberg’s inventions have been developed into commercial products found in BMW automobiles, surgical similators and medical imaging systems, and computer mice from Logitech, as well as a 3D animation tool used on films such as Shrek and Ice Age.
It appears that Louis Rosenberg now spends more time as a screenwriter with his company Outland Pictures than as an inventor, but there are a good number of patents at the US Patent and Trademark Office assigned to Outland Research. A number of those showed up recently in the USPTO’s patent assignment database as having been assigned to Google, with an execution date of August 1, 2011, and an assignment recording date of August 29, 2011.
These patents cover a wide range of inventions, but none of them really involve search. In addition to an alternative game controller or computer input device, there’s another patent that describes controlling electronic devices by looking at them and commanding them. Another watches where you’re looking on a computer or ebook reader to save your place if you look away or switch documents. A pair of the Outland Research patents provide ways to use your cell phone to collaboratively rate or reject songs that might be played in restaurants or nightclubs. A series of other patents add enhancements to cell phones and/or media players such as the ability for a group of people to run their own collaborative radio station, or to shake a media player in a certain way to change songs or playlists.