The ED Texas strikes again. A jury verdict was handed up awarding $5 million in patent infringement damages by Google to Bedrock Computer, a patent troll that had sued Google and many other defendants relating to the Linux kernel. The patent (U.S. patent 5,893,120) covers a “garbage collection” hashing method allowing outdated records to be removed on the fly from search results. Bedrock originally sued not only Google but Yahoo!, Amazon.com, PayPal, AOL, Match.com, and (thrown in for good measure with the bigger defendants, probably for venue) Softlayer. Google had separated its case from the other defendants. Meanwhile Red Hat had filed a declaratory judgment action against Bedrock to have the patent declared invalid, but Red Hat was not allowed to intervene in Bedrock’s case. Most commentators appear to think the patent vulnerable to prior art claims. The ruling against Google can be appealed in the ordinary course.
As one commentator quipped, “if I were a Linux detractor, I definitely wouldn’t get too excited: if somehow proven valid, the methods described in patent 5,893,120 are found in nearly every operating system. Look out Windows and OS X users, you’ll be next.”