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Northeastern Sues Google Over Search Patent

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Northeastern University has sued Google in the patent-friendly federal court for the Eastern District of Texas, accusing the search giant of infringing upon its work.

Northeastern Sues Google Over Search Patent
Northeastern Sues Google Over Search Patent

The University has paired with a startup called Jarg, which is the exclusive licensee of technology patented in 1997, just before Google’s incorporation and subsequent rise in the world of online search. Jarg’s website says they offer semantic search technology "with queries expressed as complete sentences."

Reuters noted Google’s response via spokesperson. As one might expect, the company considers the claims without merit.

The patent in question, 5,694,593, covers technology for searching over large distributed databases, and retrieving information from them. Jarg hopes to compel Google to license its technology.

The particulars of the case’s filing make us raise a collective eyebrow. Even though Jarg and Northeastern have been listed at plaintiffs, and Jarg’s acknowledgment that they knew of this infringement for several years, they didn’t sue Google until Jarg could find a law firm willing to take the case on a contingency basis.

Northeastern’s profile in the US News college rankings shows an institution that isn’t hurting for money. The 2008 rankings cite an endowment topping $612 million.

Students pay $43,000 per year for tuition and room & board, if they get in as US News considers Northeastern a "more selective" school.

If merit for this case has existed over the past several years, it seems Northeastern could have backed a suit against Google at any point it desired. The lengthy delay due to Jarg’s claim it couldn’t afford to finance the litigation makes us wonder why Northeastern didn’t just go ahead and back this in an earlier time.

Northeastern Sues Google Over Search Patent
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