Brad Feld

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More Software Patent Craziness – This Time It’s Aimed At Google

Nov 10, 2007
Category Technology

I woke up this morning to Northeastern sues Google over patentNortheasten University and Jarg Corp have sued Google over a patent granted Professor Kenneth Baclawski in 1997.  According to the Boston Globe article:

“The patent covers a method for chopping up database queries into multiple portions and having each part processed by a different computer. This allows for much faster searching of huge databases, like Google’s vast index of Web pages on the Internet.”

I haven’t read the patent, nor do I plan to since I’m sure the entire experience will just annoy me.  When I was at MIT in the mid-1980’s, parallel computing was all the rage.  At the time, I read several books about parallel computing (I remember one from Danny Hillis of Thinking Machines – it had a green cover and pink letters.)  I specifically recall at least one of them talking about how to parellelize SQL database queries so they could be processed on different processors or computers simultaneously.  I also remember sitting in the Media Lab with one of my frat brothers (who spent most of his time there) watching the blinking lights on a Connection Machine while he described all the cool parallel processing things he was working on.

The suit was filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall (home of the vast majority of frivolous patent suits.)  If this doesn’t motivate Google to get after reforming (or abolishing) the patent system, they might end up being the next software patent extortion victim – following in the frustrated steps of their friends at Microsoft.