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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: