Google Sued By School Over Database Tech

Northeastern University sued Google last week, claiming the search giant misappropriated patented technology regarding database architecture.

The school's patent covers technology that allows a database query to be split up and handled by multiple computers. This results in queries being handled much faster than they would otherwise by a single machine.

Northeastern received the patent in 1997, and Google was founded the following year. However Jarg Corp., the exclusive licensee of the school's patent, was not aware that Google was infringing on its rights until 2005.

At that time, a law firm made the company aware of a presentation it saw that seemed to resemble Northeastern's database technology. After much research, both Jarg and Northeastern decided that it was indeed using their patented methods without a license, and filed suit.

The law firm that exposed the possible infringement refused to take the case without a retainer, and it took over two and a half years to find a lawyer that would take the case on a contingency basis.

However, one was found and a suit was filed last Tuesday with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The court is frequently used as the beginning of patent infringement cases for its preference to side with the patent holder in such cases.

About eight out of every ten of such cases with the court end with a judgement for the plaintiff. Whatever judgement will be split half-and-half between Jarg and Northeastern after lawyers are paid and court costs.

Google said it is aware of the case, and said "it was without merit," according to The Boston Globe. Northeastern University declined to comment publicly.

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