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.
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.
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.
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.
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.