In 2010, Google reached a licensing agreement with Beneficial Innovations with the intention of stopping Beneficial’s lawsuits against its customers. Since 2007, the patent hold company had been suing the search engine’s customers over patents relating to advertising and online gamers. Users of Google’s DoubleClick ad are some of those who were sued.
Consequently, Google decided to license the patents at issue in those cases on its user’s behalf and its own. Even at that, Beneficial-a patent troll-continued to file infringement suits against Google’s customers with the aim of getting infringement settlements. So, Google sued Beneficial for breach of contract, and on Jan 23, 2014 it won the cases and was awarded $1 nominal damages.
Google says the $1 damages were more than enough since its main objective was to protect its customers from litigation assaults from Beneficial and enforce the terms of the licensing agreement.
Matt Kallman, a Google spokesman, said Beneficial reneged on the terms of its own agreement and continued pursuing customers simply because they were using Google’s licensed services. “This is a great outcome that the jury worked hard to get right,” Kallman said.
On the other hand, Beneficial’s attorneys argued in court that it was only pursuing those Google customers who were using the patented work whose terms were licensed under certain circumstances that didn’t apply to the case.
This is not the first time a giant company has had to fight for its customers. Adobe systems Inc. has in the past fought patent trolls on behalf of its customers. In 2011, Apple also had to intervene in a case where iPad and iPhone developers were being sued by patent holder Lodsys. Lodsys had to settle with the developers effectively pushing Apple out of the case.