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Wisconsin judge dismisses patent suit vs. Google

Madison, Wis. - Ruling that two Google products do not infringe on patents held by a local company, a federal judge has granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the Mountain View, Calif. firm.

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz has ruled that Google's AdSense and AutoLink products do not infringe on the patents held by the Madison-based HyperPhrase Technologies, LLC and its subsidiary, HyperPhrase, Inc. The patents, which pertain to a technology that creates links between one medical record and a second, related record, are held by HyperPhrase executive Carlos de la Huerga.

It was the second time in three years that a patent infringement lawsuit filed by HyperPhrase was thrown out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

The most recent lawsuit, characterized by Google's local attorney as a “nuisance that lacked merit,” claimed that HyperPhrase's patented technology was being used in Google's AdSense and AutoLink software. AdSense provides text-based advertising and keyword-targeted ads, and AutoLink is a toolbar feature that links to information such as maps and package tracking numbers.

In his 25-page ruling, Shabaz said the AutoLink software “performs a completely different function in a different way to achieve a different result" than the HyperPhrase technology because AutoLink identifies databases, not specific data reference points such as medical records, to produce links.
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He was even more dismissive of the claims against AdSense, calling them "nonsense" and stating the product has nothing to do with a reference in one record to a second record. He noted that AdSense connects two records that the product “statistically predicts hold a common interest for the reader."

In 2003, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb dismissed a similar suit filed by HyperPhrase against the Microsoft Office XP suite of business software. In that suit, HyperPhrase claimed that the Smart Tags function of Office XP infringed on three of its patents, and it asked for $2 billion in damages. Crabb ruled in a summary judgment that there was no infringement because Smart Tags do not operate in the same way as the inventions claimed by HyperPhrase.

HyperPhrase sought unspecified damages in the suit against Google. Madison lawyer James Peterson, who represented Google, told the Associated Press that the suit clearly was an attempt to generate revenue in a settlement from Google.

“It was fundamentally wrong, and we're happy to have been vindicated by Judge Shabaz," he said.

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