No one’s launched a product or sent in the lawyers just yet, but it looks like Yahoo is on Google’s tail in terms of instant search and might trip up its rival with a legal objection. Shashi Seth, Senior Vice President of Yahoo Search Products, has indicated that Google Instant infringes on perhaps five patents Yahoo holds.
Let’s start with the legal issue. Cade Metz recently interviewed Seth and reported this afternoon, "Seth reiterated that Yahoo! had introduced a Google Instant-like service five years before its rival, and he said that Yahoo! owns ‘about five . . . broad’ patents that cover Google’s technology."
Yahoo could use those patents to seek an injunction or pursue a settlement, although the company hasn’t committed to that course of action.
As for what sort of instant search product it’s developing, Metz wrote, "Yahoo! is working on a system that will better predict what netizens are searching for – without continuously updating search results . . . . If Yahoo! determines that you’re looking for Martin Luther King’s birthday . . . it should simply show you his birthday – not an entire search result page filled mostly with information you’re not interested in."
That sounds like a smart approach. Unfortunately, a release date wasn’t discussed.
We’ll of course be sure to report if Yahoo files any lawsuits or updates its search engine in a significant way.