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Court Hands Google Setback In Patent Case

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Circuit renewed patent infringement claims over Google's AutoLink and AdSense programs by tossing out part of a summary judgment ruling for Hyperphrase Technologies LLC.

The circuit decision is a setback for the Internet search engine and a victory for Hyperphrase, which challenged the judgment that neither program infringes any of 15 patent claims.

Google's AutoLink creates helpful links from strings of characters called "tokens," including addresses, UPS tracking numbers and vehicle identification numbers. The links direct browsers to relevant information from a different source, such as the UPS Web site.

Similarly, AdSense generates targeted advertisements by scanning a Web page's content, looking for frequently repeated words, and selecting a group of "candidate advertisements" to display on the page.

Hyperphrase's patent claims required Google to use at least one "data reference," or a "unique phrase or word which may be used in a record to refer to another record or record segment."

The district court found that AutoLink does not meet the limitations because their tokens may link to multiple data records and not "one and only one record." By contrast, AdSense links are based on user-interest predications and have "nothing whatever to do with a reference in one record to a second record," the court ruled.

The circuit concluded that a "data reference" may refer to multiple records. It partially upheld the ruling, partially vacated it and remanded. See ruling.

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