Copy That, Google, Yahoo!: Xerox is Suing You

Xerox Corp. (XRX) wants Google Inc. (GOOG) and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) to fork over an unspecified amount of money for alleged patent infringement over, you guessed it, search technology.

Yes, that Xerox – the one that makes you want to say, “Makin’ copies!” Not the one that makes you want to say, “What shall I search for on the Internet today?”

According to documents filed late last week, Xerox says Google is illegally profiting from its “system for automatically generating queries” patent as well as the “method and apparatus for the integration of information and knowledge” – or Web-page updating – and “integration” patent. Yahoo!, meanwhile, is accused of stepping on Xerox’s “query patent” toes.

Could there be more vague descriptions of supposed intellectual property? Of course, that’s half the point. If you win a court case – or heck, even if you settle – you get millions or billions in damages and licensing royalties. (And that’s much of the driver behind the new Coalition for Patent Fairness, a group that wants Congress to change the patent system.)

Xerox told InformationWeek it has been “in dialog” (we think they mean “dialogue”) with Google and Yahoo! for a while about licensing the patents but there’s been no resolution in Xerox’s favor.

“We believe we have no option but to file suit to properly protect our intellectual property,” a spokesperson told InformationWeek in an e-mail.

Google denies the claims and Yahoo! has yet to comment.

In Xerox’s (slight) defense, the company has been working hard to diversify its business model – a necessity in an un-paper friendly age. Most recently, the company bought ACS to compete with HP and Dell in the business process outsourcing market – a move that prompted Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services to put Xerox on CreditWatch negative.

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