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Google, Amazon.com Win Appeal to Toss Internet Patents

Google Inc. (GOOG) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) won a U.S. appeals court ruling in a case of a former university researcher who claimed his patents covered some of the Internet’s most basic interactive functions.

The two patents owned by Eolas Technologies Inc. of Tyler, Texas, and the University of California are invalid, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington today ruled. The decision, issued without a formal opinion, upholds a jury verdict won by Google, Amazon.com, JC Penney Co. and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) last year in Tyler.

Eolas founder Michael Doyle claimed functions including music clips, search features, maps and embedded applications used his inventions. Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web, was among those testifying against him in the trial.

Eolas, in court papers, claimed the patents covered inventions that “took the Web from a primitive and static world to today’s seamlessly interactive environment.”

In its own filing with the court, Mountain View, California-based Google and Plano, Texas-based JC Penney said Eolas’s claim was a “fantastic assertion” rejected by the jury “after hearing from the scientists who are actually responsible for that achievement, including the father of the World Wide Web.”

More than a dozen companies had been named in the original complaint, including Apple Inc., EBay Inc. (EBAY) and Citigroup Inc. Most settled before the trial. Cases against Facebook Inc. (FB), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Walt Disney Co. were stayed pending appeal.

In 2003, Eolas won a $521 million verdict against Microsoft Corp. that was thrown out on appeal for a retrial on the validity of the patents. The two companies settled before a new trial could be held.

The case is Eolas Technologies v. Amazon.com Inc., 12-1632, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Eolas Technologies Inc. v. Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE), 09cv446, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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