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Google-beating patent troll targets Microsoft in search suit

01 Feb 2013

Microsoft has become the latest company to face a suit from Vringo subsidiary Innovate/Protect (I/P) Engine over search patents.

The suit alleges that Microsoft infringed on two search patents owned by I/P Engine. Vringo made headlines last year when it successfully sued Google and AOL for damages based on online search-related patents.

"I/P Engine is seeking a judgment declaring that Microsoft has and continues to infringe the patents-in-suit, and an award past and future compensatory damages amounting to no less than reasonable royalties, prejudgment interest and any other damages based on any form of recoverable economic injury," I/P Engine said in a statement sent on the case.

The suit is based on two online search patents owned by the Vringo subsidiary. Patent numbers 6775664 and 6314420 are based on a technology that allows search engines to work concurrently with advertisement systems.

I/P Engine alleges that Microsoft has, and continues to, infringe on the two patents. The firm is seeking damages for past and future revenues potentially gained from the two search patents.

Microsoft declined to comment on the case.

Last November, the firm successfully sued Google and AOL for patent infringement.

The jury in the case awarded Vringo $30m in damages. Vringo was originally looking to score some $696m in damages from the consortium of infringing companies.

Vringo was founded in 2006 as a mobile software firm. Last year the company merged with I/P Engine, an intellectual property firm that makes money by licensing patents.

It was following the merger that Vringo received the patents involved in the current lawsuits. Both patents were originally created by employees of the internet search firm Lycos.

As Vringo has continued to battle it out in court over patents it's also started to receive investments from surprising sources. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban became a primary shareholder in the company last year.

Cuban has become well known for his anti-patent feelings. He recently invested $250,000 in the Electronic Frontier Foundations (EFF) campaign to fix the patent system. He's also written extensively on the subject on his own blog.

When asked why a person against the extensively litigious use of patents would invest in a patent infringement focused company by Forbes, Cuban said it was to "hedge against the unlimited patent exposure all the companies I have investments in face."

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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