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Google hit with patent claim over Google Drive

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The growing popularity of cloud technology is attracting not just users but patent lawsuits too. The latest example is a suit filed against Google(s goog) that claims the company’s Drive and Docs products violate a 1999 software patent.

In a suit filed in Houston federal court, Superspeed LLC claims it owns technology that allows multiple computers to quickly access a common disk at the same time. As an example, it cites a bank that has different computers for loans and customer service that all need to access the same credit records.

Superspeed says its software accelerates this process through “caching” techniques:

Superspeed’s software helps overcome this problem by permitting data “caching” in a shared-disk cluster network. “Caching” accelerates data processing operations by making a copy of frequently accessed data in the random access memory (or “RAM”) of the individual computer that is using the data. A computer can access data in RAM approximately two- hundred-thousand times faster than data on a hard disk. As a result, caching can increase performance dramatically, particularly when the computer must repeatedly access the same block of data.

The company is seeking an injunction against Google and demanding that the search giant pay it a reasonable royalty. Google Drive and Google Docs are just two of a growing number of products offered by companies that allow users to store their data on remote servers. (See Om’s description of Google Drive here).

The complaint is based on US Patent 5918244 which was issued in May of 1999 to a company called EEC Systems. These type of software patents have been a source of ongoing controversy in the technology sector and led to criticism of the US Patent Office for issuing too many patents. In recent years, the Supreme Court has been paring back the type of inventions eligible for patent protection and in May ordered the country’s patent appeals court to reconsider a patent for placing advertisements in the middle of a video clip.

Here’s a copy of the complaint:

Google Drive Patent Copy

15 Responses to “Google hit with patent claim over Google Drive”

  1. Isaac Comer-Wyrd

    I’m not understanding why this person is going after Google for patent infringement instead of, say, Amazon or Dropbox or Humyo. Perhaps it’s the deep pockets, and the fact that “Drive” is in the name?

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  2. Renee Marie Jones

    I read the patent. It might qualify for a senior project in high school. It does not qualify for a patent under US law.

    • Isaac Comer-Wyrd

      You’re right it does reference VMS. I had to check it myself to believe it.

      That’s insane.

      Also–kinda way ironic that the copy of the patent I’m looking at is stored on Google Library.

      Furry cows moo and decompress.

  3. The patent talks about a RAM based cache, which is quite common in most shared-disk systems. I fail to understand how it applies to Google Drive, which caches remote files on the local disk (not RAM). I don’t see this lawsuit being settled. It’s probably going to get dismissed.

  4. I do not see how this is relevant to Drive, if they wanted to claim it was related to YouTube videos that are viral and thus viewed millions of times – then yes the caching argument might make a little sense. But files that are stored remotely for access from a server does not match this patent, or if it does it is for all Internet storage and content companies.