updated 07:00 pm EDT, Tue July 10, 2012
HTML to XML conversion method covered by 1999 patent
Non-practicing entity (colloquially known as a "patent troll," or company that derives all or most of its income off of patents it does not actually utilize) EMG has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Google in the notoriously NPE-friendly District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in the Tyler Division. The lawsuit accuses Google of infringing EMG's 1999-dated patent on a simplified navigation system on smartphones and tablets. The patent seeks unspecified monetary damages, and a preliminary plus permanent injunction to prevent Google from distributing its Chrome Mobile browser in the United States.
Inventor and real estate developer Elliot A. Gottfurcht claims that Google violates his patent by "displaying mobile webpages on smart phones and tablets using EMG's patented simplified navigation system, which permits users to navigate a touch screen with unique inputs and to manipulate the screen for zooming and scrolling." He specifically mentioned Motorola and Samsung as primary violators in using the Chrome browser.
Google recently brought its Chrome browser to iOS, but the product is in fact a repackaged WebKit browser with Google dressing rather than an actual port. Ironically, this distinction could protect the iOS version of Chrome were EMG to prevail in its claims.
According to the United States Patent Trademark Office, Gottfurcht's patent protects how mobile URLs are parsed to provide "optimum viewing and navigation with single touches on a small screen." EMG claims to have licensed its patent portfolio to 40 Fortune 200 companies that use the technology to format content on mobile devices.
Apple has been the target of Gottfurcht before. The suit from 2008 accused Apple of violating this same patent, as well as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) with the iPhone. In 2010, EMG added the iPad to the suit. During the filing of the iPad suit, Gottfurcht called out Steve Jobs by saying "Jobs released a personal statement putting HTC on notice, '...competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.' EMG intends to hold Apple to the same standard by fighting Apple's reckless disregard for EMG's patent rights."
The suit against Google was opened because an Apple-requested re-examination of EMG's patent found that the patent was awarded correctly. Apple settled its case with EMG before it went to trial.
EMG has previously sued Radio Shack, Ford Motors, Allstate, Aetna, Tiffany and Co., Kohl's, T. Rowe Price, Suntrust Banks, Metlife, Snapple Holdings, and The Dun and Bradstreet Corporation for a patent related to zooming on specific content on a wireless device.