WASHINGTON – Vringo Inc., owner of technology developed by the Lycos Inc. search engine, said it has been awarded about $30 million from Google and some Google customers, including AOL, over patented ways to generate advertising revenue.
The companies infringed two patents owned by Vringo, a federal jury in Norfolk, Va., decided last week.
Vringo claimed Google’s Adsense program, which is also used as the advertising platform for third-party companies and AOL Search Marketplace, infringed the patents.
The company had been seeking $493 million, but U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that Vringo couldn’t collect any damages that might have occurred before the suit was filed in September 2011.
Google was told to pay $15.8 million, AOL $7.94 million, and IAC Search & Media Inc. $6.65 million, Vringo said in a statement. Target Corp. was told to pay $98,833 and Gannett Co. $4,322. The companies all use Google’s program to display ads based on search results.
The court dispute is over filtering technology to determine placement of advertisements on search results.
Google, which reported revenue of $11.3 billion in the third quarter, denied wrongdoing.
We remain confident that the patents here are invalid, that we did not infringe them, and that we will ultimately win this case, Google attorney Catherine Lacavera said in a statement.
Vringo’s original demand was based on a demand for a royalty on Google’s Smart Ads system, which contributed to about 20 percent of Google’s revenue, according to a pretrial filing.
In limiting the scope of potential damages, Google successfully argued that the patent owners had waited too long to file the infringement suit. Google said Vringo and its predecessors knew of Google’s publicly disclosed method of filtering ads as early as July 2005 yet didn’t file the lawsuit for more than six years.
Lycos, a pioneer in search engines that once rivaled Yahoo as most popular search site, is now owned by India’s Ybrant Digital, which bought it in 2010.
Innovate/Protect Inc. bought eight Lycos patents, including the two at issue in the trial, in June 2011 and sued Google and its customers in September 2011. Andrew Lang and Donald Kosak, the inventors of the two patents, are former Lycos employees who became executives at Innovate/Protect, according to the complaint.
Innovate/Protect agreed in March to a merger with Vringo. Since then, Vringo shares have more than doubled as investors bet on a lawsuit victory against Google.
Vringo, which also makes software for video ringtones and fan loyalty programs, reported $206,000 in sales in the first six months of the year.
The company is expanding its patent holdings, with the purchase of 500 patents from Nokia in August. It filed an infringement suit against ZTE Corp. over some of the Nokia patents in October.
Target is the second-largest U.S. discount retailer. IAC, the Internet company founded by Barry Diller, runs websites including Ask.com and Match.com. Gannett owns USA Today and other newspapers.