Vringo wins big in infringement suit against tech behemoths


Vringo provides software platforms for mobile social and video services. Earlier they entered into a merger agreement with I/P Engine, Inc.

Earlier this year I/P Engine purchased a portfolio of patents from Lycos (now owned by a firm in India), which, in turn, had obtained them when they bought WiseWire in May 1998 for $39.75 million. Two of these patents (6314420 and 6775664) became patents in suit, as on September 15, 2011, I/P Engine filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging that Google and several other large-company defendants infringe two of I/P Engine's patents on several websites that generate advertising and search-related revenue services (e.g., Google AdWords).

6314420, Collaborative/Adaptive Search Engine: A search engine system is provided for a portal site on the internet. The search engine system employs a regular search engine to make one-shot or demand searches for information entities which provide at least threshold matches to user queries. The search engine system also employs a collaborative/content-based filter to make continuing searches for information entities which match existing wire queries and are ranked and stored over time in user-accessible, system wires corresponding to the respective queries. A user feedback system provides collaborative feedback data for integration with content profile data in the operation of the collaborative/content-based filter. A query processor determines whether a demand search or a wire search is made for an input query.

6775664, Information Filter System and Method for Integrated Content-Based and Collaborative Adaptive Feedback Queries: A search engine system is provided for a portal site on the internet. The search engine system employs a regular search engine to make one-shot or demand searches for information entities which provide at least threshold matches to user queries. The search engine system also employs a collaborative/content-based filter to make continuing searches for information entities which match existing wire queries and are ranked and stored over time in user-accessible, system wires corresponding to the respective queries. A user feedback system provides collaborative feedback data for integration with content profile data in the operation of the collaborative/content-based filter. A query processor determines whether a demand search or a wire search is made for an input query.

To help knit this together, it’s helpful to note that patents originated in 2001 with Andrew (Ken) Lang, and Ken Lang now works for Vringo.

Indicative of things to come, in June of this year, Vringo received four positive construction Markman rulings (out of six) in its cases against the tech giants. (A Markman ruling results from  a pretrial hearing in a U.S. District Court after a judge examines evidence from all parties on the meanings of key words and terms used in a patent claim.)

Seeking Alpha reported last week that, in a unanimous verdict, the two Vringo patents described were "validated" by a federal court jury. The jury awarded Vringo $32M in "past damages" from defendants Google, AOL, Target, Gannett, and IAC/InterActive. More significantly, important to valuation analysts and financial experts, the jury granted as "reasonable” a 3.5% running royalty rate until the patents expire in 2016. (A quick look at licenses in the ktMINE database alluding to “search engines” indicates 3.5% is on the low side.) One estimate put the value of the awarded royalty stream in excess of $500M.


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