Judge Halts Google Patent Case in California

     (CN) — Google lost a race to court and now the tech giant must defend a patent infringement case in Texas regarding methods that allow users to interact with online content.
     Google filed its non-infringement lawsuit against Eolas Technologies Inc. in California Federal Court one day after Eolas filed its own patent infringement lawsuit against Google in Texas Federal Court.
     U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in the Northern District of California ruled last week that the California case must be stayed pending the resolution of Google’s motion to transfer the Texas case.
     “[T]hough the court acknowledges that the Texas action was filed only one day prior to this action, it concludes that considerations of judicial efficiency support applying the first-to-file rule,” Tigar wrote in a 14-page opinion. “The close temporal proximity of the two cases does not erase the fact that simultaneous adjudication of this matter by two courts would be inefficient and burdensome.”
     The lawsuits stem from Eolas’ patent involving methods of running applications on a distributed hypermedia computer network. These are methods that allow users to interact with online video, music or audio clips, Internet search features, and maps and embedded applications in a browser.
     The case is one in a string of similar suits between the two companies. Google previously won a case in which a jury invalidated Eolas’ two interactive Web browser patents. Another lawsuit over two more patents owned by Eolas was ultimately dismissed after the companies reached an agreement.
     Tigar ruled that the California court can exercise jurisdiction over Eolas, which has been incorporated and had its principal place of business in Texas since 2009. The court ruled in a previous case that Eolas maintained minimum contacts with California to support jurisdiction in the state.
     However, the “first-to-file” rule applies to this case in order to avoid conflicting judgments, Tigar said.
     “[T]here seems to be little point in asking multiple courts to resolve the myriad of issues involved in determining whether Google did or did not infringe on Eolas’s patent,” the judge said.
     Google’s argument that convenience factors support hearing the case in California is the same argument the company advanced in its motion to transfer the Texas action to California. Because Eolas filed its lawsuit first, the Texas court should be the one to hear and decide on Google’s argument, Tigar said. Therefore, proceedings in the California case are stayed pending the Texas court’s decision.

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