Google Gets Extension in Northeastern Patent Suit

Google has been given an extension until January to reply to a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Northeastern University and a company in Massachusetts that develops distributed search technologies.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, charges Google with using a patented technology developed by Kenneth Baclawski, an associate professor at Northeastern, to run its online search service.

The patent describes a distributed database system that breaks queries into fragments and distributes them to multiple computers in a network to get faster search results. The patent was assigned to Northeastern University, which licensed it exclusively to Jarg, a company in Waltham, Massachusetts, that was cofounded by Baclawski.

The suit was filed Nov. 6 in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Defendants typically have 21 days to reply in such cases, but Google requested an extension until Jan. 11, 2008. Neither Northeastern nor Jarg opposed the request, which was approved on Wednesday, court documents show. Google didn't say why it wanted the additional time.

Jarg and Northeastern are seeking a jury trial and an injunction to prevent Google from further infringing the patent, as well as royalty payments and damages. Google has said it considers the lawsuit to be "without merit."

The suit was filed in the Texas court's Marshall Division, which is known for processing patent lawsuits relatively quickly. Legal experts say the case could be resolved in 18 months to two years.

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