Overhype

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
aviv refuah, hype, patents, urls

Companies:
google, microsoft, netex, yahoo



Israeli Claims Patent Over Adding .com To The End Of The Address Bar

from the yup,-that-patent-system-functions-just-great dept

TechCrunch points us to a story about an Israeli company by the name of Netex who is claiming a patent over "www.addressing." What's that? Well, apparently it's the process of simply adding a ".com" to the end of a word you put in a browser address bar. There are all sorts of questions raised by this, and the reporting at the Israeli site Ynetnews leaves a lot to be desired. First, neither Ynetnews nor TechCrunch point to the actual patent. I've been searching on both the supposed inventor's name (Aviv Refuah) and his company's name and I can't find it. If anyone out there can find the actual patent, please post a link in the comments.

The next problem with the article is the claim that this patent is "worth millions" and that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo "will have to pay royalties." It remains to be seen if that's true (and given what's stated, it seems quite doubtful).

Next problem? The article claims that this patent is about the address bar in the browser -- not a search engine box -- though, the reporter doesn't seem to understand the difference between the two. Admittedly, Google now offers a browser in Chrome, but the article keeps referring to the patent as a "search option." Yahoo doesn't offer a browser.

Then there's the issue of claiming that Google and Yahoo "use" this technology:
Refuah says various internet giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have been using the program for years, and now they will have to pay royalties to Netex.
That implies -- falsely -- that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have somehow been using some technology that they got from Netex. It's a common trick used in reporting about patents, but its highly misleading. Much, much, much more likely is that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo simply added a useful and obvious feature, that Netex is now showing up and claiming ownership years later.

Finally, it's tough to say much about the actual patent claims in question -- seeing as we haven't seen them -- but from the Ynetnews description, it's difficult to see how such a thing could possibly be considered patentable (and one would think that Netscape would have some prior art, though I can't remember exactly when Netscape added the ability to add .com to the end of something put in the browser bar). But, honestly, can anyone with a straight face explain why such a thing should be patentable?

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  1. identicon
    Patent Guy, 9 Sep 2009 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Here's the patent

    I suppose you're right. I think a key limitation is "without any additional user intervention." If you type in a key word, and the program auto-completes with several choices (like Google does today, but not before about a year ago), then if the user has to move the mouse or arrow key and select one of the choices - even if there is only one choice - that should be enough to defeat this patent. But I'd have to look at the patent documents to be 100% sure.

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