Google, AOL Face Patent Suit Over ‘Snippet’ Search Results, Ads


Google and AOL were sued for patent infringement Thursday by New Jersey-based Suffolk Technologies, LLC over their Internet search summary descriptions, or ‘snippets.’

Suffolk’s lawsuit also alleges that AOL and Google are infringing a second patent for an “Internet server and method of controlling an internet server”. The second claim alleges that AOL’s ad platform and Google’s AdSense service each infringe this patent. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District for the Eastern District of Virginia where AOL is based.

Here are more details on the patent lawsuit, and the complaint (below).

Suffolk acquired the two patents at issue (Nos. 6,334,132 and 6,081,835) from British Telecom (‘BT’).

The Search ‘Snippet’ Claims

The ‘snippet’ patent (No. ‘132) involves a “Method and apparatus for creating a customized summary of text by selection of sub-sections thereof ranked by comparison to target data items.” Suffolk claims that Google Internet search results — the heart and soul of Google’s brand and reputation — use the ‘132 patent to deliver a ‘snippet’ of “selected text from the webpage that describes the content of the page.”

In effect, the lawsuit asserts that every single Google search result ‘snippet’ display violates the ‘132 patent.

Similarly, Suffolk contends that AOL search results also violate the ‘132 patent because AOL searches generate corresponding queries on Google’s servers where “Google conducts the search and returns to AOL’s website a list of webpages” with Google-generated ‘snippet’ search result summaries.

The Ad-Related Server Patent Claims

The lawsuit also alleges infringement of the broadly described ‘835 patent for an “Internet server and method of controlling an internet server.” BT originally obtained approval for this patent in 2000, before later assigning rights to suffolk.

The ‘835 patent claims relate to AOL’s ad platform, and Google’s AdSense ad serving technology. Suffolk contends that:

AOL is infringing the ‘835 patent by virtue of services provides under the AOL brand “” to selectively place advertisements for a company’s product or service on the webpage of another.

The lawsuit alleges that every time someone browses an AOL webpage, the company’s server “receives a request for ads from the webpage’s server,” and then serves ads to an AOL web page via “identification signals stored by AOL to determine which ad(s) to send to the webpage [sic].

Similarly, the lawsuit maintains that every time:

“Google’s server compares the identification signals of the webpage [sic] from which the request is made to identification signals stored by Google,” the results that Google uses to serve AdSense ads to a web page violate the ‘835 patent.

Track the case docket here, and read the lawsuit below:

Complaint for Patent Infringement, Permanent Injunction and Damages (Suffolk Technologies, LLC v. AOL, Inc. and Google, Inc.)