Google, Amazon sued over predictive search technology

MasterObjects says the companies infringe on its patent by using technology that predicts and suggests search terms for users

Software development company MasterObjects sued Amazon and Google this week, charging the companies with infringing on a patent for technology that presents possible complete search terms as users type in a search bar.

MasterObjects received a patent in the middle of last year for the technology. In its suit against Amazon, the company says it has been selling products that use the technology since 2004, the same year it filed for the patent.

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MasterObjects alleges that Amazon began infringing on the patent when it implemented "search suggestions" in 2008. "Search suggestions" is a drop-down list that appears as users type words into the search bar on Amazon. The list includes possible search terms, and the user can simply choose one rather than continue typing.

On Friday, a MasterObjects complaint citing the same patent appeared against Google. The suit against Google is not available for download but the case file includes forms indicating that it is a patent suit involving the same patent referenced in the Amazon case. Both cases were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

TechCrunch was the first to notice the Amazon suit.

Many other companies, including Bing and Yahoo, use a similar predictive technology. MasterObjects did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the first two suits or the potential for additional action.

In a statement, Google called the lawsuit baseless and said it would vigorously defend the case. Amazon said it does not comment on active litigation.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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