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Google, Amazon hit by search lawsuits

MasterObjects says companies infringe its patent

Software development company MasterObjects sued Amazon and Google last week, claiming the companies infringed 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.

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.

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.


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