PreFound: Google Notebook Infringes On Patent

    April 23, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

A patent on hyperlinking filed by search site PreFound’s parent company, iLOR, has led to a lawsuit against Google for infringement.

It took a couple of years for PreFound to get its hyperlink patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Once they got the patent, it became part of what has been nearly a year-long discussion with Google over the engineering work both companies do.

PreFound CEO Steve Mansfield told WebProNews in a phone interview that they and Google seemed to be doing similar things, among them work related to PreFound’s recent hyperlinking patent. He believes Google Notebook in particular infringes the newly granted patent.

Though Google and PreFound have been talking productively, Mansfield said that prior to their legal action, "the feeling was there wasn’t going to be any more talking." Since the filing, the two sides have been making greater progress in their discussions, and Mansfield said he is "very optimistic" they and Google can reach an accord.

PreFound sued Google over the patent the same day it was issued, Steve Bryant said at eWeek’s Google Watch. The patent covers "Method for adding a user selectable function to a hyperlink," and affects what happens when a cursor is held over a hyperlink for a given period of time. From the abstract (bullets added):

Examples of link enhancement include, but are not limited to,

  • opening the selected link in a new window;
  • opening the selected link in a new window with that window minimized;
  • creating a clickable graphic/text string, and/or icon that would enable the user to return to the selected link at a later time;
  • or anchor the current page by creating an icon or other clickable item that would return the user to the current page;
  • or view off-line which would, in the background download the files associated with the selected link to a memory device for viewing later off-line.

According to Mansfield, there is more to the patent than what is available by simply right-clicking a link for a menu of options. If the functionality is intrinsic to Google Notebook, that would seem to prove him correct.