Google doesn’t like it when you go after its customers, patent trolls. In this case, the offending company was Beneficial Innovations. For the past 8 years, they have been suing other companies over online gaming and online advertising patents that they own. In 2010 Google settled a case with Beneficial Innovations. Part of that settlement included protection for Google customers against future patent suits from Beneficial Innovations.
Apparently the patent troll didn’t get the memo, because they filed a suit in 2011 against several media companies that it claimed had infringed on their patents. The lawsuit named Advance Publications, owners of Ars Technica and some newspapers; ALM Media, which owns several print and online magazines; American Media, owners of Playboy and Shape magazines, as well as several other major media holding companies. The problem was that the same patents that Beneficial Innovations claimed these companies were infringing were the exact same ones that Google paid to settle in 2010. These media companies were simply customers of Google’s Doubleclick ad exchange. Beneficial Innovations didn’t know that this was the case, or more likely were trying to pull a fast one on the court in Marshall, Texas. Google wasn’t having it.
Google stepped in and sued this patent troll for breach of contract. The case went to a jury, and the jury immediately saw what was going on. The jury reached a verdict yesterday in Google’s favor, and Beneficial Innovations had to back down. Google didn’t even try to gain anything from Beneficial Innovations in the case, only seeking $1 in damages. Their goal was make this troll back down. However you feel about the media companies involved or the patent system in general, this was the right thing for Google to do. A Google spokesperson, speaking about the case said: “Beneficial went back on the terms of its own license agreement, pursuing our customers for simply using our licensed services. This is a great outcome that the jury worked hard to get right.” The media companies that were being sued by Beneficial had already reached a settlement, so it’s unclear how things will play out for them. The settlements may be reversed, or the companies may opt to sue Beneficial. Either way, the good guys won this time.
Via: Ars Technica