The Latest Patent Suit Against Google
from the just-noticed,-huh? dept
What's odd, of course, is the fact that the lawsuit is just occurring now, so many years after Google has been widely known. The story that is being spun is that Baclawski and the president of Jarg, Michael Belanger, had no idea that Google might be infringing until an unnamed Boston patent attorney contacted them and pointed it out (after hearing a presentation on how Google works) in 2005. Of course, that was still quite a while ago, and the company explains that away by saying that they didn't want to pay a lawyer upfront and it took all this time to find one who would sue (in Marshall, Texas, of course) on contingency. However, as one patent attorney notes: "I find it equally unbelievable that it took them 2.5 years to find a contingency lawyer to take the case. Unless the patent is really crappy...." Indeed, with the number of patent lawsuits being filed these days on contingency (many of which would appear much weaker than this one), it seems hard to believe it would take so long.
Either way, this is yet another perfectly good example of how the patent system is not supposed to work. No one is accusing Google of somehow "stealing" this idea by seeing the patent and building it themselves. No one even seems to be saying that this is central to the company's success (the fact that the inventor himself didn't even think Google was infringing until after a patent attorney pointed it out is pretty telling here). Yet, now Google is being sued for supposedly infringing. In other words, this is clearly a case where even if there is infringement (and that may be questioned) it's quite clear that Google developed their own version independently, and Google's success has nothing to do with Jarg or Baclawski. While independent invention is (for reasons that still don't make any sense) not a valid defense to infringement claims, it still seems ridiculous to think that Google caused any kind of "damages" to this other firm (or Northeastern) at all. The patent system is supposed to spur innovation. Google clearly did innovate and did so in a big way totally independent of this patent. To then punish the company goes against the very principles of the patent system.