By Nate Anderson | Published: November 29, 2007 – 11:30AM CT
The patent in question covers technology developed by Dr. Kenneth Baclawski, a computer science professor at Northeastern. Baclawski’s patent was filed back in 1994 and was approved in 1997, and it described as “a distributed computer database system including a front end computer and a plurality of computer nodes interconnected by a network into a search engine.”
The system’s “home node” accepts search queries and breaks each query down into fragments that are sent out to various other backend nodes for processing. Each node runs a search on its particular fragment and then sends the results upstream to the home node, which reassembles them all and returns a result to the user.
University to Google: Stop infringing this
Patent infringement complaints are notoriously vague and generally offer no indication of how a company is alleged to have infringed. But it doesn’t take a computer science prof to see that the patent in question might have some application to Google’s core search product.
While the patent is owned by the university, it has been exclusively licensed to Jarg Corporation, a semantic search company cofounded by Baclawski. Jarg markets its own semantic search technology that targets vertical markets such as healthcare.
Texas’ Eastern District has become an especially popular venue for patent infringement suits owing to a reputation for speed and plaintiff-friendliness.
Google has yet to reply to the lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month, but has just had its reply deadline extended until January 11, 2008.