Patents blog reports that a
Texas jury has ruled against Google in a patent infringement case that will
cost the company at least $5 million in damages.
ruled in favor of Bedrock Computer Technologies LLC, a company run by
former patent reformer David Garrod, on April 20. Garrod is now a patent troll
who targets small companies that operate in the notoriously patent
troll-friendly jurisdiction of the Eastern District of Texas along with larger
companies just to have the case brought to trial in that jurisdiction.
Bedrock -- which filed the suit in June 2009 against Softlayer Technologies,
CitiWare Technology Solutions, Google, Yahoo!, MySpace, Amazon.com, PayPal,
Match.com, AOL, and the CME Group -- alleged that a Linux kernel
infringes on a
1997 patent relating to "methods and apparatus for
information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external
chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data."
Technica wrote about the
lawsuit when it was first filed in 2009: "It's a textbook example of
patent trolling: a lawsuit over a relatively broad and dubious patent executed
by a company that makes nothing itself against a random assortment of
deep-pocketed industry leaders."
It's also interesting that the CitiWare Technology Solutions is a company based
in the Eastern District of Texas that has no products, no employees, and no
But the Linux kernel that the jury ruled infringes on the patent is at the
heart of Google's server farm. The allegations against Google were the first to
go to trial, and Google's attempts to invalidate the patent failed.
In addition to the $5 million owed by Google, the implications of the case
stretch far and wide across the IT industry, particularly for Linux and
Google's Linux-based Android mobile OS, FOSS Patents reports.
The money owed by Google is just for past damages. Companies who continue to
use the Linux kernel will have to pay royalties.
In relation to Android, Google will most likely be forced to change the Linux
kernel it distributes with Android to remove the infringing code.
The decision also doesn't bode well for the 40-some other patent infringement
cases related to Android that Google is currently dealing with. "If
Google can't defend itself successfully against one patent held by a little
non-practicing entity from Texas, what does this mean for Oracle's lawsuit over
seven virtual machine patents?" Florian Mueller writes in the FOSS
Patents blog. "This shows that having deep pockets to afford the
best lawyers isn't enough."
Google will likely appeal the verdict.
quote: 1) Open Source does not mean you can just shove anything in there and it magically becomes patent proof. Patents are on ideas & methods, open source code can infringe as easily as something Apple, Google or MS puts out.
quote: 2) The jury in East Texas is likely quite expert on patents because their local court is known for being patent holder friendly.
quote: This isn't rocket science. However, since it's in Texas...
quote: It's one of those "so obvious nobody else tried to patent it before" patents.
quote: The accused infringement relates to the Linux kernel itself, which is at the core of Google's server farm. The complaint named a long list of allegedly infringing Linux versions, starting with the 2.4.22.x tree all the way to version "2.6.31.x, or versions beyond 2.6.31.x."
quote: methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data