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Patent Suit Hits Google, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo

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Performance Pricing alleges in a federal lawsuit that the four Internet players they have sued infringe on a patent the company holds, in relation to paid search advertising.


 Patent Suit Hits Google, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo
Patent Suit Hits Google, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo

The patent in question, 6,978,253 (253 for short), covers, "A method of doing business over a global communications network." Performance Pricing filed its patent application in June 1999, and was rewarded with the patent in June 2005.

Fast forward two years later, and InformationWeek has reported the filing of a lawsuit in federal court for the Eastern District of Texas. The district has been the site of numerous patent infringement filings, due to a perception that the court favors the claimants in these suits.

Here’s what the 253 patent abstract says about what the patent governs:

A business model/process is described for conducting business transactions over the Internet, allowing buyers to reduce the price of the selected product/service based on the buyer's performance during a collateral activity.

Sellers offer the product/service within a specified price range, and buyers accept the offer, in exchange for the opportunity to close the transaction at the lowest price offered by achieving a high score during the collateral activity.

The ultimate price is within the agreed upon range, but is determined based upon the buyer's performance during the collateral activity.

The abstract talks about the activity as gaming, but also broadly lists "any other activity" too. Performance Pricing claims it has suffered damage from the use of its patent in Google AdWords, AOL Search Marketplace, Microsoft adCenter, and Yahoo Search Marketing. They want the usual damages and injunctions against use of the patent, as similar past claims against Google and others have demanded.

If the companies named as defendants have any concern, they aren’t showing it publicly. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a European audience he expected advertising will become a quarter of Microsoft’s business in a few years, according to the New York Times.

Patent Suit Hits Google, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo
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